The 20th International AIDS Conference in Melbourne, Australia, honoured colleagues killed when the Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17 was shot down over Ukraine on 17 July.
Several leading experts in AIDS research were on board the flight and had been en route to the conference.
A minute’s silence was observed at the start of the conference ushered in by International AIDS Society President FranÃ§oise Barre-Sinoussi.
Victims remembered by the delegates included: Joep Lange, a leading figure in AIDS research who was serving as the HIV Netherlands Australia Research Collaboration’s co-director, and formerly held Barre-Sinoussi’s current job as International Aids Society President; Jacqueline van Tongeren, of the Amsterdam Institute for Global Health and Development; Glenn Thomas, spokesman for the World Health Organisation; Maria Adriana de Schutter and Lucie van Mens of AIDS Action Europe, and Pim de Kuijer, an HIV lobbyist with STOP AIDS NOW!
Early reports from Australian media suggested the plane was carrying over 100 attendees to the conference, but, as of 23 July, only six have actually been confirmed.
Barre-Sinoussi told delegates at the remembrance session: “We grieve alongside all of those throughout the world who have lost friends and family in this senseless tragedy. But we strongly believe that all of us being here for the next week to discuss to debate, and to learn is indeed what our colleagues who are no longer with us would have wanted. We dedicate AIDS 2014 to them.”
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