Minutes silence held for MH17 victims headed to Melbourne AIDS conference

A minutes silence and a candlelight vigil has been held in Melbourne in honour of the world’s leading experts in the battle against HIV who were killed while travelling on Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 en route to an AIDS conference in the city.

The tragic loss of researchers who died should be used to push the life-saving agenda of the meeting, the UN AIDS chief Mr Michel Sidibe urged as he spoke outside Melbourne Arts Centre Hamer Hall on Friday night.

A special tribute to the former president of the International AIDS Society (IAS) and ‘giant’ of HIV research, Joep Lange, was also given by Mr Sidibe.

The UN AIDS chief shared an emotional hug with Proffessor Sharon Lewin after they both spoke of their talented friend, who was a father of four girls and a boy.

The 20th International AIDS Conference was nearly cancelled after it emerged many of the 298 who died when Flight MH17 crashed in Ukraine were delegates with their family members.

Organisers of AIDS2014 still don’t know exactly how many of the 12,000 researchers coming to Melbourne for the five-day conference were on board MH17…