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My thoughts are with the family and friends of those who perished in the tragic crash of the Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17.

It is particularly devastating to hear that a number of the passengers killed were heading to the Melbourne International AIDS Conference in Australia, including pioneer and leading researcher in the field, Joep Lange (former president of the International AIDS Society).

Many years ago I worked in a HIV/AIDS Unit (in my role as coordinator of Hepatitis C Services for injecting drug users). It always struck me how much tragedy was ever present in this community of individuals directly and indirectly affected by HIV/AIDS. Yet, they powered on courageously with their fight to reduce disease and discrimination. I had the greatest admiration and respect for the people I worked with and met in this area.

The fight continues to this day, however the issue has become less of a priority for many in Government (hovering in the background as if all the problems had been solved because of advances in treatment). Only recently the conservative led Government of Queensland stripped a huge amount of funding from HIV/AIDS programs in the State. But things are still very grim throughout the world for the millions (34 million plus) affected by HIV/AIDS and there is no room for complacency.

To lose these researchers and workers in the global HIV/AIDS field is just horrific and so unfair.

To lose anyone in this act of carnage is horrific.

RIP

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