A tribute is planned in Melbourne for at least six AIDS conference delegates killed on board doomed MH17. Sarah Toms reports.
The flags hang at half mast in Melbourne. This Australian city prepares to host an AIDS conference on Sunday....but it also mourns the tragic loss of some of the world's leading experts in the battle against HIV. At least six people heading to the conference were killed, while travelling on Malaysia Airlines flight MH17. Professor Francoise Barre-Sinoussi co-discoverer of the HIV virus and President of the International Aids Society said a special tribute would be paid to their friends and colleagues. PRESIDENT OF THE INTERNATIONAL AIDS SOCIETY (IAS) PROFESSOR FRANCOISE BARRE-SINOUSSI SAYING: (SOUNDBITE)(English) PRESIDENT OF THE INTERNATIONAL AIDS SOCIETY (IAS) PROFESSOR FRANCOISE BARRE-SINOUSSI SAYING: "This is a moment of deep sadness for the world. We all share in the sense of grief and loss with the friends and family of all 298 people on board of the MH17 flight that crashed over Ukraine. The International AIDS Society has confirmed the devastating news that at least six delegates travelling to the AIDS 2014 Conference in Melbourne were on board including our former president Joep Lange and Jacqueline van Tongeren. The extent of our loss is hard to comprehend and express. Our colleagues were travelling because of their dedication to bringing an end to AIDS. We will honour their commitment and keep them in our hearts as we begin our programme on Sunday." Organisers had considered cancelling the 20th International AIDS Conference after it emerged that some of the 298 people who died when Flight MH17 was shot down over eastern Ukraine were delegates with their family members. Barre-Sinoussi said it was too early to say what impact the loss would have on AIDS research.