WASHINGTON - The international AIDS community is reeling from the loss of many as 100 researchers who died when Malaysia Airlines flight 17 crashed in eastern Ukraine. They were en route to an AIDS conference that is about to begin in Australia. Among the dead, a leader in AIDS research, Dr. Joep Lange.
Dr. Joup Lange changed the world's view on who should receive medications to treat HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. He was en route to Melbourne, Australia, to participate in the International AIDS Conference which begins on Sunday.
Dr. Clifford Lane, from the National Institutes of Health, told VOA Dr. Lange's death is a tragic blow for many people who work in AIDS treatment and research.
"He was one of the first people to see the value of doing clinical research in developing country settings at a point in time when many people thought that was not the right thing to do," he Lane.
Lane said Dr. Lange led the effort to provide drugs to poor people with HIV in developing countries at a time when these medications were only available in the developed world.
"He was able to show quite clearly from his work that there was no reason why anyone in the world with an HIV infection shouldn't have access to drugs that are so effective in preventing that disease, and in fact, turning it around," he said.
Dr. Lange served as the president of the International AIDS Society from 2002 to 2004. He was also the founding chairman of PharmAccess Foundation, a nonprofit organization based in Amsterdam that seeks to provide HIV/AIDS therapy in developing countries. He had worked in the field of HIV/AIDS for 30 years.