Penn Medicine News Blog

July 25, 2014 // By Steve Graff // Comments

Penn Medicine Remembers Victims of Malaysia Airlines Flight: A Loss to the HIV/AIDS Community

Basic Science // Clinical Trials // Global Medicine // Infectious Disease

RibbonWHYY’s Radio Times’ show last Friday focused on much of the progress that’s been made in the world of HIV/AIDS research and care, but there was one terrible set back that had to be addressed.  Earlier that morning, news broke that the Malaysia Airlines plane struck down over the Ukraine was carrying people headed to the 2014 International AIDS conference in Melbourne, Australia —from activists to researchers, all an integral part of the fight against AIDS. 

“This is a tragedy for everyone who lost their lives and for their families and friends,” said guest Ian Frank, MD, a professor in the division of Infectious Diseases and director of the Clinical/Therapeutics Program of Penn's Center for AIDS Research, who has spent most of his career studying and treating patients with HIV/AIDS. “And the HIV community has taken a huge blow.”

At least six conference delegates died that day, most from the Netherlands. Among them were Martine de Schutter, from Bridging the Gaps, a Dutch organization that works on HIV prevention and treatment, Pim de Kuijer, from the Stop AIDS Now group, and Lucie van Mens, MD, of the Female Health Company (FHC). A hands-on advocate for female sexual health, Mens was the driving force behind FHC’s partners’ dedicated female condom programs in Africa, the organization said.

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