The Social Intervention Group Remembers AIDS Colleagues Lost on MH17

makeshift memorial at Amsterdam airport

The Social Intervention Group (SIG) and the Global Health Research Center of Central Asia (GHRCCA) at the Columbia School of Social Work would like to pay tribute to the tragic loss of colleagues in the international AIDS field, on Malaysian Airlines Flight 17. They were en route to the International AIDS Society Conference in Melbourne, Australia, when their plane was shot down over Ukraine.

Willma and Albert Musher Professor Nabila El-Bassel, who directs SIG and GHRCCA and is in Melbourne for the conference, said:

This is an immense loss not only to the families and friends of the victims, but also to the field of HIV research. We have lost a large segment of an international cohort of brilliant scientists who have spent the better part of their careers seeking to prevent, treat, and cure the HIV/AIDS pandemic. The true extent of this event is unfathomable at this moment. We are still in shock as we share our grief with our colleagues around the world who have been affected by this devastating tragedy. Those of us at the International AIDS Society Conference taking place this week will remember our fellow scientists who were killed on Flight MH17 and will dedicate our future research efforts to their memory.

Established in 1990, SIG advances evidence-based, sustainable solutions to HIV, substance use, violence, trauma and other co-occurring issues affecting vulnerable populations. GHRCCA, which started up in 2007 with the establishment of a branch office in Almaty, Kazakhstan, works on developing evidence-based, sustainable solutions to the health and social challenges faced by Central Asia and Mongolia, including HIV/AIDS.

Image: Makeshift memorial at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport for the victims of the Malaysian Airlines flight MH17, which crashed in the Ukraine on 18 July 2014 killing all 298 people on board, by Roman Boyd (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0).