The International AIDS Society (IAS) has confirmed that at least six of their delegates for the International AIDS Conference, to be held on Sunday 20 July, were on the Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17 that was allegedly shot down while flying over Ukraine.
Experts from the International AIDS Conference believe that a lot of vital findings and research on AIDS might have gone down with the flight, and its deceased victims.
Joep Lange, former President of the IAS was also travelling on the flight, along with his wife, Jacqueline van Tongeren, who worked at the Amsterdam Institute of Global Health and Development.
The four other delegates to the 20th International AIDS Conference were Pim de Schutter from Stop AIDS Now, Glenn Thomas of the World Health Organisation (WHO), Maria de Schutter and Luice van Mens, both from AIDS Action Europe, according to a press release by the IAS.
Although only six delegates have been confirmed to have been on the flight, there have been many reports that there were around 100 International AIDS Conference delegates on that flight, according to Shanghai Daily.
There have been calls to cancel the International AIDS Conference. However, the IAS has decided to go forward with the meet, which around 14,000 delegates from all over the world are believed to be attending.
"The extent of our loss is hard to comprehend or express," said Françoise Barré Sinoussi, President of the IAS. "We grieve alongside all those throughout the world who have lost friends and family in this senseless tragedy."
The IAS also paid a tribute to Joep Lang and his wife Jacqueline van Tongeren, on their website.
Ahead of the official launch on Sunday, a pre-conference meet was arranged. The mood at this meet was sombre, as the delegates mourned the death of their fellow health workers and researchers. There was special mourning for Joep Lang, who is one of the leading activists and researchers in the AIV-AIDS field.
"I would like to say that Joep was not only a great researcher, a great champion of the fight against HIV, but he was also a wonderful human being," said Sinoussi. "He was a God-like figure. He was a clinician, he was a scientist. He was a renaissance man who loved art, literature and books and people."
Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17 was allegedly shot down as it was flying over the Donbass area in Ukraine. It is not yet clear who shot it down, although there have been reports that the pro-Russian militants in the area had a hand in this.
As the friends and families of the victims mourn this dreadful loss, Moscow and Kiev seem to have found another reason to have a go at each other.