AIDS 2014 delegates in Malaysia Airlines crash: reports
HIV experts and AIDS researchers are reportedly among those lost in the Malaysia Airline plane crash in the Ukraine.
The 20th International AIDS Conference, or AIDS 2014, is due to begin in Melbourne on Sunday with over 25,000 delegates expected to attend.
Several reports state that up to 20 AIDS scientist and researchers were on the board the flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur.
Some people have already taken to social media to express their sympathy upon hearing reports of attendees and speakers of AIDS 2014 have died in the crash.
Organisers have released a statement to the media about delegates on the flight.
"The International AIDS Society (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," the IAS statement read.
"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."
Simon Ruth CEO of the Victorian AIDS Council said:
“With so much excitement and anticipation in the lead up to AIDS 2014, it is devastating to learn of this tragic loss for the international HIV/AIDS community. Our sincerest condolences go out to the families, friends and colleagues of those lost in today’s tragedy, including those International AIDS Conference delegates on board Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17. I’m sure we’ll see the global community coming together at this difficult time in the week ahead.”
The Australian Greens say the MH17 disaster is a horrific tragedy that will reverberate around the world.
“Our hearts go out to the families and friends of all those who have been killed, especially the 27 Australians reported to be on board,” said Greens Leader Senator Christine Milne.
“Tragedies like these always touch many more people than we can ever know, but it is shocking news that up to 108 delegates to the 20th Annual AIDS Conference due to be held in Melbourne this weekend were on board the doomed flight."
Greens health spokesperson Dr Richard Di Natale, said: “As someone who is going to be speaking at the conference and who has worked in the area of HIV prevention I am devastated by the loss of some of the world’s most talented and dedicated people.
“While the next week will be difficult, we will dedicate the conference to memory of those we lost today and ensure that their legacy lives on in the global effort to combat HIV.”
The Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations (AFAO) expressed its deepest condolences to the family, friends and colleagues of the crash victims.
AFAO executive director Rob Lake said the loss of delegates, including leading HIV activists and scientists is devastating.
"We extend our very deepest condolences to the families, friends and colleagues of all of those who were aboard the Malaysian Airlines flight that crashed in the Ukraine."
AIDS 2014 runs from July 20-25.