AIDS Experts Among Malaysia Airlines Victims

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A team of AIDS experts, including a former president of the International AIDS Society, were among the victims of the Malaysia Airlines flight shot down over Ukraine on Thursday, colleagues said. They were on their way to a major international AIDS meeting being held in Melbourne, Australia.

Among the passengers was former president of the International AIDS Society Joep Lange, a well-known HIV researcher from the Netherlands, Australian opposition leader Bill Shorten said in parliament. Also scheduled to have been aboard was Glenn Thomas, a genial British spokesman for the World Health Organization, according to WHO spokesperson Christy Feig.

“The International AIDS Society today expresses its sincere sadness at receiving news that a number of colleagues and friends en route to attend the 20th International AIDS Conference taking place in Melbourne, Australia, were on board the Malaysia Airlines MH17 flight that has crashed over Ukraine earlier today,” the group said in a statement.

“Joep was a giant in this field; a researcher who really ‘got it’ in terms of human rights, equity and justice. He was as much activist as researcher — and that is rare. Incredibly sad,” Mitchell Warren, Executive Director of New York based AVAC: Global Advocacy for HIV Prevention, told NBC News.


Associated Press material was used in this report.