The 20th International AIDS Conference began Sunday in Melbourne, Australia, as attendees mourned the loss of colleagues in last week’s plane crash in Ukraine. Yesterday, the International AIDS Society released a statement confirming that at least six delegates traveling to the conference were onboard the Malaysian Airlines flight.
Dr. Dan Barouch, director of the Center for Virology and Vaccine Research at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and a professor at Harvard Medical School who is attending the conference, said the attendees are reeling in disbelief.
“The mood is somber, people are in shock,” he told WBUR’s Kassandra Sundt. “And it’s certainly not the type of discussions that people were planning to have here.”
Despite the tragedy, he said there was no discussion of canceling the conference, which is scheduled to continue through Friday.
‘A lot of people’s lives are saved because of his work.’
“There are clearly statements of sorrow and condolences and moments of silence throughout the scientific sessions, throughout the conference dinners, and privately,” he says. “But from the start everyone acknowledged that it would be the desire of all those who died tragically in this plane crash to have the work go on.”