AIDS Conference Attendees on Downed Malaysian Jet

( AP Photo /Dmitry Lovetsky )
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SYDNEY (AP) -- There's an outpouring of grief today from the scientific community, following word that researchers and activists heading to an AIDS conference in Australia were among those on the Malaysian jetliner.

The passengers included the former head of the International AIDS Society, Joep Lange, a well-known researcher from the Netherlands. The hospital where he worked in Amsterdam says a colleague was also on board.

The hospital describes Lange as "a great inspiration for everybody who wanted to do something about the AIDS tragedy in Africa and Asia."

The president-elect of the International AIDS Society says if reports of Lange's death are true, than "the HIV/AIDS movement has truly lost a giant." A fellow researcher says Lange had been working on HIV since the earliest years of the epidemic.

The AIDS conference will be held as planned in the Australian city of Melbourne, out of respect for those who died. An organizer says, "We know that it's really what they would like us to do."

A spokesman for the World Health Organization, Glenn Thomas, who was also on his way to the conference, was among those on board.

There's no word on just how many of the passengers were on their way to the AIDS conference.

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