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AIDS conference attendees on downed Malaysian jet

100-Plus HIV/AIDS Researchers On MH17: 'Devastating Impact'


SYDNEY (AP) - Several passengers on board a Malaysian jetliner shot down over Ukraine were world-renowned researchers heading to an international AIDS conference in Australia, officials said Friday.

"A number of people" on board the Boeing 777 were en route to the southern Australian city of Melbourne to attend the 20th International AIDS conference, which starts Sunday, Australian Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop told reporters in Brisbane.

The plane, which was flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, crashed Thursday with 298 people on board. American intelligence authorities believe a surface-to-air missile brought the aircraft down but it was not yet clear who fired the missile.

At least 27 Australians were confirmed to be on board the plane, which was scheduled to continue flying to the western Australian city of Perth after stopping in Kuala Lumpur, Bishop said.

Among the passengers was former president of the International AIDS Society Joep Lange, a well-known HIV researcher from the Netherlands, opposition leader Bill Shorten said in parliament.

"There are Australians who would have planned to be at the airport tomorrow night to greet friends and family - amongst them, some of the world's leading AIDS experts," Shorten said. "The cost of this will be felt in many parts of the world."

Chris Beyrer, president-elect of the International AIDS Society, said if reports of Lange's death were true, "then the HIV/AIDS movement has truly lost a giant."

Nobel laureate Dr. Francoise Barre-Sinoussi, co-discoverer of the AIDS virus and president of the International AIDS Society, paid tribute to Lange in speech in the Australian capital, Canberra.

"Joep was a wonderful person - a great professional ... but more than that, a wonderful human being," she said. "If it is confirmed, it will be a terrible loss for all of us. I have no words, really, to try to express my sadness. I feel totally devastated."

Former U.S. President Bill Clinton will deliver an address at next week's AIDS conference, which brings together thousands of scientists and activists from around the world to discuss the latest developments in HIV and AIDS research.

House of Representatives Speaker Bronwyn Bishop called for a moment of silence in parliament to honor the victims, adding that she was scheduled to address the AIDS conference on Monday.

"I know there will be many empty spots," Bishop said. "And I think that what we're doing is mourning with all of the world and all that had been lost. And we want to see justice but in a measured way."

The International AIDS Society issued a statement expressing its grief over the news that several of its colleagues and friends were on board.

"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," the group said.

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tbplayer44 July 18 2014 at 2:48 AM

What more do we need to research? It is a highly contagious disease that can be prevented by a 2.00 condom. We've known that for nearly 25 years. The problem is, those who contract it, dont care or they would have protected themselves. Why should we care? (Dont even try to bring up the less than 1% of cases involving medical procedures, infection by birth, etc... they are innocent victims... I speak of irresponsible adults with no self respect or moral virtue)

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5 replies
ram4131 July 18 2014 at 10:20 AM

If anyone thinks the assh*le that fired the missile knew ANYTHING about that plane other than its flight path over a war zone is an idiot.

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chaparita0728 July 17 2014 at 11:58 PM

This whole thing is tragic. However, I can just hear the anti-gay evangelinuts saying that these educated researchers were punished by god. Ugh!

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2 replies
John Roberson chaparita0728 July 18 2014 at 1:42 AM

No they were not punished by God. Be careful to capitalize the creator of Heaven and earth. You were right to use the small g for god because yours is the god of the world or the devil and you just might be right about him. the god of the world does get in the way and does deceive and comes to destroy.

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1 reply
doonooch John Roberson July 18 2014 at 5:31 AM

whooooooooaaaaaaaaaa dude, what a convoluted and completely off-the-wall post.

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jmc chaparita0728 July 18 2014 at 1:50 PM

tbplayer44 is on that bandwagon! How sad to have people that think like that on our planet.

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vivianlwood July 18 2014 at 9:14 AM

Could be the milssle was launched by some group that opposes AIDS research.

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2 replies
Maikal vivianlwood July 18 2014 at 9:43 AM

Another a-ss poster, "body of christ" anyone!

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sscenes vivianlwood July 18 2014 at 2:26 PM

They must have been to close to a cure!

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Henrie George July 18 2014 at 8:20 AM

This is probably the BEST aspect of the crash. They were wasting millions of dollars on "curing" a disease that is 100% preventable by living as GOD says we should.

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4 replies
alfredschrader July 18 2014 at 12:35 PM

It's almost a carbon copy of MH370.
No radio distress call-in.
Obviously MH370 was also someplace it wasn't supposed to be and they got shot down as well.
So why or who is using Malaysia jetliners as spy platforms ?

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barryaclarke July 18 2014 at 1:25 PM

When you look at the video and pictures of when MH17 first hit the ground, why wasn’t there a smoke trail in the sky from the path of the aircraft if it were hit by a Russian missile?.......

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quayeswife July 18 2014 at 9:23 PM

pharmacutical companies are out to make lots of money on CHRONIC illnesses ----- they do not want cures they want to Manage the illness.
Wake up Sheeple!!!

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liondog96 July 19 2014 at 12:23 AM

There goes that cure. Good to know that God is looking out for us all....lol.

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major.lackland July 19 2014 at 1:11 AM

This is truly sad no matter who was on board. However, if you want to prevent AIDS, stop promoting the lifestyle that causes it.

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