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Anova Health Institute mourns significant loss

South Africa’s Anova Health Institute is deeply saddened by the news that more than 100 AIDS researchers, activists and health workers, who were en route to attend the 20th International AIDS Conference taking place in Melbourne, Australia, were on board the Malaysian Airlines MH17 flight that crashed over Ukraine yesterday. Anova sends condolences to the families, friends and colleagues of those who have been lost to this tragedy.

Among the passengers was former president of the International Aids Society (IAS) Professor Joep Lange, a well-known HIV researcher from the Netherlands. Professor Chris Beyrer, president-elect of the International Aids Society, said of reports of Lange's death "the HIV/AIDS movement has truly lost a giant."

Professor James McIntyre, Chief Executive Officer of Anova, expressed his sorrow at the news."Joep Lange was a great scientist, a great activist and a great humanitarian in the field of AIDS. He was a passionate advocate for African researchers, and was instrumental in supporting our first work in preventing mother to child transmission in Soweto. His contributions were immense and we will all miss his insight and wisdom."

Nobel laureate Dr Francoise Barre-Sinoussi, co-discoverer of the AIDS virus and president of the IAS, paid tribute to Lange in a speech in the Australian capital, Canberra. "Joep was a wonderful person, a great professional…but more than that, a wonderful human being," she said. "If it is confirmed, it will be a terrible loss for all of us. I have no words, really, to try to express my sadness. I feel totally devastated."

Nine Britons, 154 Dutch, 27 Australians, 38 Malaysians, 23 US citizens and 80 children were among those on board Boeing 777-200 from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur.

For media queries: contact Tanja Bencun, Anova’s communications manager on tel: 011 581-5038/email: bencun@anovahealth.co.za

Twitter: @AnovaHealthSA

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