Tag Archives: AIDS2014

MH17: HIV community mourns loss of pioneer researcher Joep Lange

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The international AIDS community is mourning the deaths of researchers whose plane was shot down over Ukraine and who were travelling to Melbourne for a global AIDS conference.

The former International AIDS Society president Joep Lange and his partner and ArtAids board member Jacqueline van Tongeren have been confirmed as having been on the flight, while there are reports of others including a World Health Organization spokesman, Glenn Thomas.

298 people – 283 passengers including three infants and 15 crew – were killed on the Malaysia Airlines flight 17.

Global leaders mourned

David Cooper, director of the Kirby Institute at UNSW Australia, was a friend of Joep Lange. He received a call at 3am telling him that Lange and his partner were on the flight.

Professor Cooper said his colleague of 30 years had “an absolute commitment to HIV treatment and care in Asia and Africa”.

“Joep was absolutely committed to the development of affordable HIV treatments, particularly combination therapies, for use in resource-poor countries,” Professor Cooper said.

Professor Lange was a professor of medicine and head of the Department of Global Health at the Academic Medical Centre at the University of Amsterdam. He served as president of the International AIDS Society from 2002 to 2004.

In his 30 years of researching HIV, he led pivotal trials of antiretroviral therapy and published more than 350 papers in peer-reviewed journals.

“Another outstanding area of [Lange’s] contribution has been his pioneering role in exploring affordable and simple antiretroviral drug regimens for the prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV in resource-poor settings,” Professor Cooper said.

“Both of these have been part of his dedication to increasing access to effective HIV treatment.  The joy in collaborating with Joep was that he would always bring a fresh view, a unique take on things, and he never accepted that something was impossible to achieve.”

More AIDS2014 delegates feared lost

Australia’s Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has told reporters this morning: “A number of people who were travelling to Malaysia for an international AIDS conference were also on board”.

The Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur was due to connect with a flight to Perth, before people travelled onto Melbourne, Reuters and others have reported.

UNAIDS director Michael Sidibe, who is already in Melbourne for the week-long 20th International Aids Conference, tweeted: “Many passengers were enroute to #AIDS2014 here in #Melbourne.”

The conference organisers, the International AIDS Society, released a statement expressing “sincere sadness” at the news of the M17 disaster:

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.

Story via The Conversation

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Prominent HIV researcher Joep Lange was among the victims of flight MH17

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Joep Lange, a prominent HIV researcher and former president of the International AIDS Society, was one of the victims of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17.

A professor of medicine and head of the department of global health at the University of Amsterdam, Lange had been involved in HIV treatment and research since 1983, just as the virus was emerging as a global health threat.

He was one of the key researchers behind several pivotal antiretroviral therapy trials, including projects involving the prevention of mother-to-child transmission of the virus, according to the Amsterdam Institute of Global Health and Development.

Lange was on his way to AIDS 2014, a global conference that will take place in Melbourne, Australia from July 20 to 25, at the time of death.

He was traveling with his wife, who has also died in the crash.

“Joep was a visionary amongst HIV researchers,” American HIV researcher Dr. Rick Elion told Vox. “He was acutely aware of the multiple dimensions of HIV spanning science to society and had a heart of gold. This is a huge loss for the field.”

“Joep was absolutely committed to the development of affordable HIV treatments, particularly combination therapies, for use in resource-poor countries,” David Cooper, a friend and fellow researcher told the Australian academic news website The Conversation.

“Another outstanding area of [Lange’s] contribution has been his pioneering role in exploring affordable and simple antiretroviral drug regimens for the prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV in resource-poor settings,” Cooper said.

Other researchers and activists have died en route to the AIDS conference, though the death toll has not yet been confirmed.

Australian newspapers are reporting that as many as 108 conference participants may have been on the plane.

The International AIDS Society issued a statement on the losses:

The IAS 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 Malaysian Airlines MH17 flight that has crashed over Ukraine earlier today.

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.

We also at LASS, recognise this incredible loss of some some of the worlds finest scientific HIV activists and send our sympathies and heartfelt sorrow to the families of those who died yesterday on flight MH17.

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