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Friday, July 18, 2014

Roughly 100 AIDS Researchers May Have Died in the Airplane Shot Out of the Sky Over Ukraine

Posted by on Fri, Jul 18, 2014 at 5:08 PM

Clinton called the news sickening and awful.

As many as 100 people who were on the plane shot down over Ukraine yesterday may have been AIDS researchers and advocates heading to the International AIDS Conference. That number is according to President Obama. It is not clear yet who all was on the plane; a full list has not been released. But it's been widely reported that among them was Dr. Joep Lange, a pioneering HIV/AIDS researcher. He was "the architect and principal investigator of several pivotal trials on antiretroviral therapy" beginning way back in 1983, according to his official bio. What does that mean? In layman's terms, according to Dr. Peter Shalit, who practices medicine in Seattle and treats many patients with HIV, studies conducted by Dr. Lange led directly to the drugs used today to suppress the HIV virus—the only drugs that turned out to be effective at keeping people alive.

"The community of HIV researchers is a tight group," Dr. Shalit said. "There's a lot of comraderie because everyone's on the same side. So it's really horrible," he said, adding that it wouldn't just have been researchers but also their assistants, communications staff, nurses, etc. "I never met Joep Lange but a lot of people I know know him. That's sort of the way it all works. There's a relatively small concentrated group of doctors that work on HIV. We know of each other by name if not personally." Dr. Shalit personally attended the International AIDS Conference last year—it's one of the three or four most important AIDS meetings globally each year.

"It's so tragic. I couldn't believe it when I saw it," said Dr. Brian Wood, who teaches at the University of Washington and is a provider at Harborview's Madison Clinic. "I think everyone in the HIV community is pretty shocked and saddened by it. It's a pretty big setback to lose not just that many researchers but researchers who were involved in the beginning and pivotal in the early days. It's a really tragic loss and a huge setback for the field." Asked if he knew anyone on the plane, Dr. Wood said, "I don't know if I know anyone" connected with UW or Harborview who was on the plane.

Michael Nank, a spokesperson for Fred Hutchison Cancer Research Center, said, "We've got several people already on the ground in Melbourne getting ready for the conference," but no one who was on the plane, he doesn't think. "Again, no one's sure." In a statement, Fred Hutch's Dr. Larry Corey called it "so ironic that people who dedicate their lives to helping others are taken from us in such a senseless way."

It wasn't just Dr. Lange's work at the vanguard of developing retrovirals that made him such an internationally revered figure, Dr. Shalit told me. Once that work was accomplished, Dr. Lange "was an early advocate of getting antiretrovirals into Africa—not just the drugs but the infrastructure you need in terms of delivery and refrigeration. He advocated for infrascruture that would get drugs to people. You can't just ship them and drop them off. You have to make sure they get to the people that need them."

More than one million people die of AIDS in Africa every year.

Bill Clinton has described the news about the plane as "sickening" and "awful." He said, "Thinking about those people being knocked out of the sky is pretty tough."

Dr. Shalit said, "It's very distressing. The people on that plane, what did they do? They're just trying to get from point A to point B."

Colleagues of Dr. Lange's have described him as someone who "changed the course of humanity." His partner, Jacqueline van Tongeren, is believed to have been on the flight, too.

UPDATE: The number of AIDS researchers on the plane has been revised to six, and a full flight manifest has been released.


Comments (39) RSS

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Will in Seattle 1
Russia must really really hate Science.

Which is ironic since they have one of the highest death rates due to HIV/AIDS ...
Posted by Will in Seattle on July 18, 2014 at 5:14 PM · Report this

Can Bill Clinton tell us how insurgents with wrist rockets capable of going 4000 meters in the air took down a plane flying at a minimum cruising altitude of 35,000 feet?

It would be like shooting an arrow at the moon and expecting it to land on Tranquility Base.
Posted by Supreme Ruler Of The Universe http://_ on July 18, 2014 at 5:20 PM · Report this
venomlash 3
Posted by venomlash on July 18, 2014 at 5:23 PM · Report this
fletc3her 4
The world reaction to this is frustratingly slow, but it's coming.
Posted by fletc3her on July 18, 2014 at 5:27 PM · Report this
TheMisanthrope 5
Gawker long ago edited their update to say "Or, it might just be 7, according to the conference itself."

Here's the WaPo source.
Posted by TheMisanthrope on July 18, 2014 at 5:30 PM · Report this

You may now list the artillery and capabilities actually in the hands of pro-unification, Russian-backed rebels.

1. _________________
2. _________________
3. ....

Posted by Supreme Ruler Of The Universe http://_ on July 18, 2014 at 5:58 PM · Report this
JonnoN 7
@2, @6 shut the fuck up you insufferable piece of shit. Go read the news instead of making it up in your head.
Posted by JonnoN on July 18, 2014 at 6:09 PM · Report this
Fnarf 8
@6: #1 would be Buk or SA-11 medium-range surface-to-air missiles that ride around on tracks and can be fired with a separate radar guidance system or with their own guidance by trained personnel. They have a range of 20 miles and can hit planes as high as 72,000 feet.

A number of these are in the hands of the rebels; they were crowing about capturing one from Ukraine just the other day, with video, in the exact same city where further video shows the rocket being fired. There are boatloads of trained personnel, as the rebels not only have lots of trained ex-military people but are also being supplied with active duty Russian troops as well.

And they've used them. This is the fourth plane they've shot down with a Buk in the past month. The other three were military supply planes. This one wasn't.

There is also a strong suspicion that further Buk systems have been given to the rebels directly by Russia.

Furthermore, fuck you, asshole. Go away.
Posted by Fnarf on July 18, 2014 at 6:19 PM · Report this

The 100 number is speculation. That is unconfirmed. Shame on you slog for not digging deep and doing the reporting I know you can do.
Posted by The real T on July 18, 2014 at 6:24 PM · Report this

How many, at what positions?

The only way to know for sure is to examine the wreckage and check for trace explosive residue to determine (maybe) the specific weapon (if any) possibly used.

that ride around on tracks

And those tracks were built in The Ukraine?!

Come on, Adlai Stevenson, show us the U-2 photos...
Posted by Supreme Ruler Of The Universe http://_ on July 18, 2014 at 6:37 PM · Report this

The 100 number is conflated. Only 7 confirmed heading to the conference. Even one is sad but that number is click bait
Posted by The real T on July 18, 2014 at 6:44 PM · Report this
Dr. Z 13
Thank you for your life, Dr. Lange, as well as all of your companions. I shall light a candle tonight in recognition of all of you.
Posted by Dr. Z on July 18, 2014 at 7:09 PM · Report this
dnt trust me 14
@9 The Stranger feels no shame, ever. They do the apology schtick at times, and print up a cute Regrets issue, but the fact remains. Their policy is We Have No Shame. It's sad when you think of integrity and dignity, but it makes it somewhat fun for me, they're such an easy target.
Posted by dnt trust me on July 18, 2014 at 7:21 PM · Report this
@11 President Obama said it was "apparently near 100" researchers and activists.…
Posted by Christopher Frizzelle on July 18, 2014 at 7:24 PM · Report this
Fnarf 16
@10, you insufferable shithead: Torez and Snizhne. They were seen with the Buks, in launch mode; they were crowing about capturing them; they were seen firing them; they were seen moving them across the border (with an empty tube) shortly after the incident. The trail of the missile was seen in US radar surveillance. Seriously, can you not fucking read?

The Russians are now covering up the evidence at the site, shooting at the European investigators, and looting the victims, staggering around drunk in the investigation field, contaminating and destroying the evidence, and most importantly moving the Buks back across the Russian border.

The only question left, as I said above, is, whether the Buk that fired the fatal missile the one they stole, as is generally believed, or a different one supplied directly by Russia.

You really need to stop looking at Several of their top reporters have quit in the last 24 hours over the ludicrously false propaganda they produce, garbage which you apparently cannot force down your gullet fast enough.

Oh, why am I arguing with you? You're as bad as a Truther. Go fuck yourself. Seriously, Bailo, this is gas oven time. Put your head in. End it. Put us all out of your misery.
Posted by Fnarf on July 18, 2014 at 7:28 PM · Report this
Theodore Gorath 18
When Bailo is not advocating forcing IUDs into twelve year old girls against their will, he is defending Putin's forces when they massacre civilians.

Truly the dumbest motherfucker on the planet.

Posted by Theodore Gorath on July 18, 2014 at 7:45 PM · Report this
Will in Seattle 19
Putin is the Tea Party's idol, and a mass murderer
Posted by Will in Seattle on July 18, 2014 at 8:30 PM · Report this
The real T @ 9 & 11: the number of 100 or more was widely reported in numerous media outlets starting yesterday evening and mentioned by both Obama and Clinton earlier today based on those reports.

Those numbers came from people on the ground in Melbourne who were piecing together who they thought was on the plane and were in a state of fucking shock. I got text messages and emails last night from folks in Melbourne using those numbers. We won't know the total numbers until the passenger list is released.

This is devastating news for the HIV/AIDS community. The loss of Joep Lange alone is enormous and is on par with the death of Jonathan Mann in another crash 16 yrs ago.
Posted by gnossos on July 18, 2014 at 8:39 PM · Report this
A nice remembrance of Joep Lange by the great public health journalist Laurie Garrett:…
Posted by gnossos on July 18, 2014 at 8:40 PM · Report this
TheMisanthrope 22
@15 and @20 The WaPo article was posted mere minutes before the Obama interview was last updated...

But the WaPo article was posted HOURS before Frizzelle posted.

Responsible reporting and all that...
Posted by TheMisanthrope on July 18, 2014 at 8:48 PM · Report this
Well the flight manifest has been released, so hopefully we'll have some clarity soon.
Posted by gnossos on July 18, 2014 at 9:00 PM · Report this
venomlash 24
@10: So you want us to believe that the Russian-backed rebels are using wrist rockets* because you say so. Excuse me, I didn't know their ranks included BOBA FUCKING FETT.
But when Fnarf mentions the Buk missiles in separatist hands and the surveillance footage indicating their use against the airplane, suddenly you want boots-on-the-ground forensics.

*There is an excellent reason that people don't launch missiles from their wrists in real life. Care to guess what it is?
Posted by venomlash on July 18, 2014 at 10:12 PM · Report this
There is no point in replying to Bailo. Especially you, Fnarf; he isn't able to digest any of your facts.
Posted by sarah70 on July 18, 2014 at 10:19 PM · Report this
obama is really loosing it on foreign policy. he should launch a cruise missile onto those rebels bases.
Posted by Cassette tape fan on July 18, 2014 at 11:29 PM · Report this
Matt from Denver 27
You guys are so nice to play with Bailo.
Posted by Matt from Denver on July 19, 2014 at 8:28 AM · Report this
AFinch 30
This is a horrible tragedy all around.

I asked this on the last (now dead) thread about this: how do we square this with Iran Air Flight 655? Mistakes happen.

Putin is a POS and clearly responsible for this - directly or indirectly - but for those who are ready to escalate militarily, on what perch do we position our high moral dudgeon?
Posted by AFinch on July 19, 2014 at 9:54 AM · Report this
@2, perhaps he can tell us where those American-trained ISIS terrorists in Iraq got their drones and drone technology from, huh?
Posted by sgt_doom on July 19, 2014 at 10:25 AM · Report this
@8, as fnarfart said, three military supply aircraft were shot down, which was why the United Nations designated that area as restricted airspace, which means the Malaysian Airlines airliner was really negligent in overflying that sector.

Yes, the Russky-backed rebels were at fault, yes, it was restricted airspace, but no, this most likely would not have happend had there not been a US-financed coup to oust the (admittedly corrupt, but they elected him) democratically-elected president of the Ukraine, so NATO could get missiles closer to Russia, and exert ever greater economic pressure on the Russians.

Actions do have consequences: Support and help finance a military coup in Honduras in 2008, and Honduran children stream across America's southern border.

Finance the overthrow of the president of the Ukraine, and civilian airliners may very well be shot down, and many killed horribly.

But the greatest consequences befall those who continue to moronically follow and believe in American Exceptionalism!
Posted by sgt_doom on July 19, 2014 at 10:34 AM · Report this
And speaking of American actions:…
Posted by sgt_doom on July 19, 2014 at 10:35 AM · Report this

Did aviation authorities know that this was a dangerous area?

Yes, they most certainly did. Nearly three months ago, on the “Special Rules” section of its site, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration put out an order prohibiting American pilots, airlines, charter carriers, and everyone else over whom the FAA has direct jurisdiction, from flying over parts of Ukraine.…
Posted by sgt_doom on July 19, 2014 at 11:18 AM · Report this
AFinch 36
@31(troll) - no, we didn't actually apologize. Both the Captain of the ship and the Lt. Cmdr. were awarded the Navy's Legion of Merit medal by GHWB for their actions.
Posted by AFinch on July 19, 2014 at 12:05 PM · Report this
venomlash 40
@38: Lenin wasn't a mass murderer. You're thinking of Stalin.
Posted by venomlash on July 19, 2014 at 2:18 PM · Report this
Bloody fucking hell. The Guardian reports that credit cards from people on the plane have been used and that the drunken fucking gorillas who call themselves separatists are basically looting the site (on top of walking all over remains holding cigarettes).

Fuck protocol and fuck Putin. NATO needs to land a dozen planes filled to the rafters with troops and vehicles.
Posted by gnossos on July 19, 2014 at 11:21 PM · Report this
#2,6 & 10 (supreme ruler of the universe)) is an example of a paid Russian shill. Look at his history if you don't believe me. This is his first comment thread, and he is spreading nothing but nonsense.
Posted by kbatku on July 20, 2014 at 7:59 AM · Report this
Catalina Vel-DuRay 48
Kbatku, Dear Leader has been with us for ages. No one would pay him to sweep their front walk, let alone post anything. He lives in a garden apartment in Kent, which be never leaves, and wears nothing but muumuus all day. I think he's a trust fund baby.
Posted by Catalina Vel-DuRay on July 20, 2014 at 8:36 AM · Report this
sissoucat 49
@40 Tell that to the millions of Russians who died during the famines of the 20s.
Posted by sissoucat on July 20, 2014 at 12:33 PM · Report this
yabeen 50
Thank you for your life, Dr. Lange, as well as all of your companions. i will pary for them..sure...thanks
Posted by yabeen on July 20, 2014 at 10:47 PM · Report this
Claypatch 51
@49 sissoucat: Go back and read your history. It was the 30s and it was Stalin. Lenin wasnt alive long enough to affect any kind of Stalinesque slaughter.
Posted by Claypatch on July 21, 2014 at 12:12 AM · Report this
venomlash 52
People were certainly executed on Lenin's orders, but I don't believe there's enough to justify calling him a mass murderer. Pretty much any revolutionary leader is going to have some amount of blood on their hands just from the initial struggle of taking and retaining power (viz. Ernesto "Che" Guevara). The vast and overwhelming majority of the deaths under the Soviet regime in Russia were the doing, directly or indirectly, of Josef Stalin.
Posted by venomlash on July 21, 2014 at 11:46 AM · Report this

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