World-renowned AIDS researcher Joep Lange and several others on their way to the 20th International AIDS Conference in Melbourne, Australia are among the 298 victims of Malaysia Airlines flight 17, which crashed in eastern Ukraine after being shot down Thursday.
A Dutch citizen, Lange was a pioneer in his field, starting his work in AIDS research when the epidemic first began. He was a driving force behind the Amsterdam Institute for Global Health and Development, and a past president of the International AIDS Society. "His loss casts a pall over the International AIDS Conference just getting underway in Melbourne," Daniel R. Kuritzkes, a professor at Harvard Medical School, told The Washington Post. "[He] fought ceaselessly for the dignity of all HIV-infected persons throughout the world."
Stop AIDS Now Executive Director Louise van Deth told the Post that Pim de Kuijer and Martine de Schutter of the AIDS Fonds foundation also died in the crash. "It is incomprehensible that they're no longer here," she said. "It is a heavy blow that people who have been so active for so long in the fight against AIDS have been wiped out."
According to a Malaysia Airlines release, 154 of the passengers were from the Netherlands, 43 (including 15 crew members) from Malaysia, 27 from Australia, 12 from Indonesia, nine from Britain, four from Germany and Belgium, three from the Philippines, and one from Canada, with 41 unverified.