BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Among the men and women who died when a Malaysia Air plane was shot down were at least six experts on AIDS.
Tracey Leong spoke to a Baltimore doctor who knew one of them.
The loss of these leaders has had a huge impact on the Baltimore medical community, especially for those who knew them personally and worked closely with them on their mission to put an end to AIDS and other viral illnesses.
Aboard Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 were scientists leading the way for AIDS research who were headed to a conference in Australia. One of them was 59-year-old Joep Lange, who had dedicated more than 30 years to HIV research and treatment.
“We have lost a very important leader, a global leader,” said Dr. Robert Gallo.
Gallo, the director of the Institute of Human Virology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine–who also co-discovered HIV as the cause of AIDS—was Lange’s friend and colleague.
Lange was a professor of medicine and the head of the Department of Global Health at the Academic Medical Center for the University of Amsterdam. He was recognized for his push to bring affordable anti-retroviral drugs to the poor and Dr. Gallo says his memory will live on and his legacy will be honored.
“People will become determined to do better,” Gallo said.
While he is saddened by the loss of his friend, his heart goes out to all the families on board that flight.
“Let’s not forget there were 200 other people, other people important on the flight, not just doing AIDS research,” he said. “Every life there is important.”
Also aboard the flight was Lange’s longtime partner in life and work, Jacqueline van Tongeren. She was also a doctor and an advocate to make affordable medicine available to the poor.
Former President Bill Clinton is scheduled to attend the AIDS conference and has said he is “sickened” by what happened.
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