Prolific HIV/AIDS researcher, Joep Lange, was among those lost when Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was shot down.
The Malaysian plane being shot down is a tragic turn of events for the world. But the loss is particularly heavy for the HIV/AIDS community as many AIDS researchers, health officials and activists were aboard the flight on their way to a HIV conference in Melbourne, Australia.
The confusion surrounding these events is still fresh, so it’s still not known how many AIDS workers were on the flight. But it was confirmed that Dr. Lange and his longtime companion, Jacqueline van Tongeren, were both aboard the flight and are now presumed dead.
Lange was a pioneer in the fight against HIV/AIDS since the early days of the crisis, who started researching the epidemic in 1983. He conducted several pivotal trials on antiretroviral therapies and on the prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV. He was also a fierce advocate of getting affordable drugs for AIDS patients into poor countries.
He also served as president of the International AIDS Society in the early 2000s, and founded the PharmAccess Foundation among his other great achievements.
“Joep was a person who knew no barriers; he was a great inspiration for anyone who wanted to contribute to fighting the tragedy of AIDS in Africa and Asia,” a statement from the Amsterdam Institute for Global Health and Development read.
Our hearts and minds go out to all those who lost friends, colleagues and family in the tragic plane crash.