The International AIDS Society (IAS) at least six delegates bound for the 20th International AIDS Conference in Melbourne, this weekend, were on board the Malaysian Airlines flight MH 17 when it crashed in Ukraine.
Former IAS president and leading HIV researcher Professor Joep Lange was killed along with his partner, Jacqueline van Tongeren, of the Amsterdam Institute for Global Health and Development. He was professor of medicine and the department head of global health at the University of Amsterdam in a career that spanned the three decades of the AIDS epidemic. He was also executive director of the Amsterdam Institute for Global Health and Development and had strong links with Australia as a co-director of the seven-year-old HIV Netherlands Australia Research Collaboration.
The IAS said Professor Lange was the leader in rallying support for triple antiretroviral therapy 20 years ago, arguing it was the only way to move forward in the response to HIV. Ultimately, he was proved right, reversing the course of the epidemic in the process.
“The extent of our loss is hard to comprehend or express,” said IAS President, Françoise Barré-Sinoussi. “We grieve alongside all of those throughout the world who have lost friends and family in this senseless tragedy.”
The conference is going ahead on Sunday in memory of those killed, with more names expected to be announced in the coming days as relatives are informed. The full extent of the losses to AIDS research could be as high as 100 people.
The names confirmed as killed are:
Pim de Kuijer, from Stop AIDS Now!
Joep Lange, professor of medicine, University of Amsterdam
Lucie van Mens, Director, AIDS Action Europe
Maria Adriana de Schutter, AIDS Action Europe
Glenn Thomas, World Health Organisation
Jacqueline van Tongeren, Amsterdam Institute for Global Health and Development
Here’s Prof Lange explaining his time as president and the work he did.
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