Breaking: Top AIDS Researchers Reportedly Killed In MH17 Crash

The crash of MH17, a Malaysia Airlines plane out of Amsterdam, is believed to have claimed the lives of 295 crew members and passengers — several of whom are thought to have been leading experts heading to an AIDS conference.

The ill-fated Malaysia Airlines flight was scheduled to stop in Melbourne, Australia, where an AIDS conference was scheduled for next week.

Per Australian news sources, information is trickling in indicating that several of those on board were en route to the large event, and Sian Bowen, conference manager of the 20th International AIDS Conference, confirmed in a statement that the reports appeared to be accurate:

“A number of colleagues and friends en route to attend the taking place in Melbourne, Australia were on board the Malaysian Airlines MH17 flight that has crashed over Ukraine… At this incredibly sad and sensitive time the IAS stands with our international family and sends condolences to the loved ones of those who have been lost to this tragedy.”

While news outlets are often inclined to await next of kin notifications and the official release of a passenger manifest, colleagues and loved ones of AIDS researchers have disclosed the sad news on sites like Twitter after learning their loved ones were aboard flight MH17:

The loss of nearly 300 lives is horribly tragic, and Dr. Yasmin notes that each one had an impact:

If accurate, however, the toll is far, far greater in this particular field, and another Twitter user tweets:

It is not known how many passengers were headed to the Melbourne AIDS conference, but it appears that there were several researchers on board:

In addition to the AIDS researchers believed to have been on the Malaysia Airlines flight, many AIDS activists and advocates may also have been on MH17.