July 18, 2014 — Harvard School of Public Health joins the entire AIDS research community in mourning the loss of dozens of HIV/AIDS researchers and advocates who were on Flight MH17 when it was downed over Ukraine yesterday. Members of the HIV/AIDS community were en route to the 20th International AIDS Conference in Melbourne, Australia.
“This is a very, very sad day for all who lost valued friends and colleagues on Flight MH17,” said Richard Marlink, the Bruce A. Beal, Robert L. Beal, and Alexander S. Beal Professor of the Practice of Public Health and Executive Director of the Harvard School of Public Health AIDS Initiative.
Among those killed was renowned AIDS activist, organizer, and researcher Dr. Joep Lange.
“Joep was a friend and colleague for more than 20 years in the fight against the HIV/AIDS epidemic,” said Marlink. “He was a giant both in clinical research and in the fight for access to AIDS care and treatment for people around the world, especially in Africa and Southeast Asia. His loss, and the loss of so many others, is deeply painful to me, and to the entire AIDS community at Harvard. Our hearts go out to Joep’s five daughters and the rest of his family, and to all of those who lost loved ones in this tragedy.”
Harvard School of Public Health Dean Julio Frenk joined a growing list of international figures in offering his condolences to the victims’ families.
“We at Harvard have been privileged to know and work alongside some of the remarkable people who lost their lives on flight MH17 yesterday,” said Dean Frenk. “These members of the global HIV/AIDS community–our friends, colleagues, and compatriots in the struggle to overcome one of the greatest threats to global health in our generation–dedicated their lives to helping others. We continue to be inspired by their commitment, and we grieve their loss and the loss of so many others on that flight.”
It is not yet known whether any Harvard School of Public Health alumni or other members of the Harvard community were on board the flight.