Global experts in the fight against AIDS, flying to attend the 20th international Aids conference, Aids 2014, in Melbourne, 20-25 July, are said to be among those feared dead as a result of the downing of the Malaysian MH17 plane in Ukraine yesterday.
Delegates were en route to Melbourne via Kuala Lumpur. MH17 had taken off from Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport bound for the Malaysian capital yesterday (17 July) when it came down near to the Russian border in an area held by rebel separatists.
Sir Bob Geldof was due to speak at the five-day Aids 2014 conference, which organisers say will still go ahead. The International Aids Society (IAS) released a statement expressing condolences and mourning the dead: “At this incredibly sad and sensitive time the IAS stands with our international family and sends condolences to the loved ones of those who have been lost to this tragedy.”
Speaking at the National Press Club 2014 International AIDS forum, Nobel Laureate Professor Francoise Barre-Sinousi said it was “a very sad day” and confirmed the deaths would be a “great loss” for the HIV AIDS community. Lord Norman Fowler, who was health secretary in Margaret Thatcher’s government for six years, also expressed his sadness at the Press Club, describing the news as “absolutely horrific and terrible”.
Of those conference delegates thought to have died, one is said to be Glenn Thomas, the World Health Organisation’s Media Relations Co-ordinator and a former BBC journalist from Blackpool.
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