Malaysia plane crash claims top AIDS researchers

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A large number of world-renowned AIDS researchers and activists were onboard Malaysia Airlines Flight 17.

A large number of world-renowned AIDS researchers and activists were on board Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 and heading to Melbourne, Australia for the 20th International Aids Conference.

Among them, Joep Lange, former president of the International AIDS Society.

"Joep was a man who knew no barriers," the Academic Medical Center hospital in Amsterdam said. "He was a great inspiration for everybody who wanted to do something about the AIDS tragedy in Africa and Asia."

Dutch AIDS activist Pim de Kuijer, once a political intern of former Dutch lawmaker Lousewies van der Laan, was also killed.

The World Health Organization says their spokesman, Glenn Thomas, a 49-year-old Briton, was also killed on his way to the AIDS conference.

Thomas "will be remembered for his ready laugh and his passion for public health," said Gregory Hartl, another spokesman for the U.N. health agency.

A memorial was held Friday afternoon at the AIDS Healthcare Foundation in Hollywood honoring the many researchers who dedicated their lives to curing AIDS. Members of the community brought flowers and other remembrances to the memorial located at 1811 North Western Avenue.

"We felt it was important to honor the memory of the more than 100 AIDS advocates who perished," AIDS Healthcare Foundation President Michael Weinstein said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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