Melbourne: The six-day world forum on fighting HIV and AIDS began on a sad note on Sunday, with a memorial for half a dozen delegates who died on flight MH17 in eastern Ukraine on Thursday. The congress was opened by French scientist Francoise Barre-Sinoussi co-chair and a Nobel laureate who asked all those attending to observe a minute of silence for the delegates who perished in MH 17 tragedy.
The plane tragedy took six prominent delegates, including leading Dutch researcher Joep Lange, a former president of the International AIDS Society, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said via video link paid highest tribute to all those who did not complete their journey to Melbourne.
The tight-knit AIDS community was hit hard by the loss of Lange and his partner, Jacqueline van Tongeren, who was a prominent grassroots campaigner.
Around 12,000 delegates from fields including science, social activism, policymaking and business are expected at the event, called ‘AIDS 2014’ for short, which is held every two years.
According to UN estimates, AIDS-related diseases have killed roughly 35 million around the world; more than double the typical estimates for military and civilian casualties combined during World War One