The shooting down of Malaysian airlines flight 17 in Ukraine has hit home for the director of the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS.
Dr. Julio Montaner says he is shocked to learn one of his close colleagues may be among the dead.
“My colleague, my friend, my very close collaborator, Dr. Joep Lange, may have been on this plane and we are devastated just to think about this loss. It is something that I can’t even think about. ”
He says Lange may have been on the plane heading to an AIDS conference in Melbourne.
“Joep was a global leader. He was one of the early advocates of triple therapy in fact he was one of my co-investigators that showed that triple therapy was the definitive answer for the treatment of HIV. He has been at the forefront of innovating and bringing treatment to the world particularly in Africa.”
He says Lange’s death is a huge loss in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
“His presence was all over the place. His fingerprints are all over everything that is innovative in HIV. I cannot imagine moving forward without Joep. It is really devastating.”
Montaner is also on his way to the conference.
“I am on the way to the airport as we speak and I can’t bear the thought that Joep may not be at the conference. I am devastated.”
Lange, a Dutch citizen, was a past president of the International Aids Society.