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Pharma joins tributes to Aids researchers lost on flight MH17

Toll of Malaysian Airlines jet crash in Ukraine includes 'HIV hero' Dr Joep Lange

20th International Aids Conference Melbourne Australia MH 17 Malaysian Airlines

Pharma and the international research community have paid tribute to the Aids conference delegates who were on board Malaysian Airlines flight MH17.

They were travelling to the International Aids Conference in Melbourne, Australia and its organisers have so far confirmed that the plane, downed near the Russia-Ukraine border, was carrying six delegates.

Among those who lost their lives was Dr Joep Lange, a leading light in Aids research who had worked to widen access to antiretroviral medicines around the world.

Paul Stoffels, chief scientific officer at Johnson & Johnson, praised Dr Lange - with whom he had worked for more than 20 years - as a “visionary HIV researcher”.

“In Joep we have truly lost a hero in the fight against HIV. An uncompromising champion for patients, in particular for women and children infected with HIV or at risk for HIV infection, Joep made a significant contribution to advancing the scientific field through his own work in developing new approaches to treatment and prevention.

“His leadership in supporting expanded access to treatment for those least able to afford it has saved countless lives all over the world.”

Dr Lange, who was co-director of the HIV Netherlands Australia Research Collaboration (HIV-NAT) had been travelling with his partner Jacqueline van Tongeren from the Amsterdam Institute for Global Health and Development.

Also on board flight MH17 were Lucie van Mens, director of Support at The Female Health Company, Glenn Thomas from the World Health Organization, and Pim de Kuijer and Martine de Schutter, a lobbyist and  programme manager respectively from Aids Fonds/STOP AIDS NOW!

The International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers & Associations (IFPMA) said in a statement: “We join the global health community in mourning the loss of scientists, researchers, health officials and campaigners and extend our deepest sympathy to all those colleagues, friends and fellow members of the AIDS community who are affected by this tragic event.”

A one-minute moment of remembrance was held in honour of the delegates at yesterday's opening session of the International AIDS Conference.

20th International Aids Conference Melbourne Australia MH 17 Malaysian Airlines Lambert Grijns

A letter of condolence and support was also read out by Lambert Grijns (pictured above), the Dutch Ambassador for Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights and HIV/Aids.

President of the International Aids Society Françoise Barré-Sinoussi said: “The extent of our loss is hard to comprehend or express. We grieve alongside all of those throughout the world who have lost friends and family in this senseless tragedy.”

The Society's executive director Owen Ryan added: “Our colleagues were traveling because of their dedication to bringing an end to Aids. We will honour their commitment and keep them in our hearts.”

Article by
Dominic Tyer

21st July 2014

From: Healthcare

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