Shockwave Over Deaths of an Estimated 100 HIV Researchers and Activists on Malaysia Flight

The death of an estimated 100 HIV/AIDS researchers and activists aboard Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 has sent a shockwave through the scientific community.

The researchers were on their way to the 2014 International AIDS Conference in Melbourne, Australia. Their plane was shot down with a surface-to-air missile from territory controlled by Russian militants in eastern Ukraine, according to the Obama administration.

All 298 on board the flight were killed.

The International AIDS Society (IAS), which organized the conference, said Friday it had decided to continue with the gathering of the world’s leading researchers to honor those who had died.

“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,” said the group. “In recognition of our colleagues’ dedication to the fight against HIV/AIDS, the conference will go ahead as planned and will include opportunities to reflect and remember those we have lost.”

Trevor Stratton, a Canadian HIV consultant present at the conference, told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation the world might never realize the full extent of the tragedy.

“The cure for AIDS may have been on that plane, we just don’t know,” he said. “You can’t just help but wonder about the kind of expertise on that plane.”