SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) --Former International AIDS Society President, Joep Lange was one of at least six AIDS researchers confirmed dead in the crash and not 100 as originally feared.
The AIDS researchers were on board Malaysia Flight 17 headed to an international AIDS conference. The deadly crash happened just days before San Francisco's annual AIDS Walk.
The annual AIDS Walk in San Francisco gives people an opportunity to remember those lost to the disease. This year, participants will also remember a group who had been working so hard to fight it.
Organizers held a meeting Friday morning and say they're dedicating this year's AIDS Walk to those researchers on the deadly flight.
"I think the entire HIV community is stunned by it and very sad about it," Project Inform Executive Director Dana Van Gorder said.
Van Gorder, one of the organizers of the AIDS Walk, says they're planning a tribute at the beginning and end of the event. "Our MC will certainly be acknowledging what happened and dedicating the program of the event to the people who were lost," he said.
Thirty UC San Francisco staff members were heading to that same conference in Australia, many who knew Lange personally. "Joep Lange was a friend and colleague to many of us," Professor of medicine at UCSF Eric Goosby, M.D., said.
Goosby missed his flight after hearing the news and is finally flying out on Friday. He says Lange was a central figure in defining the history of AIDS and HIV infections and helped get drugs and medication to poor regions of the world. "We are seeing a turn down in the infection in those heavily burdened countries and it's because of the work that was supported in part by Joep."
Goosby says the legacy left behind by Lange and the other researchers will continue to save lives.