Suva, Fiji – Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) – The sudden and untimely passing away of Professor Joep Lange has sent a shock wave around the globe, especially among members of the HIV and AIDS community.
Professor Lange and several of his colleagues died in the tragic crash of Malaysia Airlines flight 17 in Ukraine. They were travelling to attend the 20th International AIDS Conference in Melbourne, Australia.
Even if they did not have the privilege of meeting him in person, many people know of his tireless work to ensure access to affordable life-saving combinations of anti-HIV medicines are available to everyone.
[The ARVs drugs that are used for combination HIV therapy are accessible to a number of Pacific Island Countries through the Fiji Pharmaceutical and Biomedical Services – a regional procurement mechanism that is currently supported through the Global Fund.]
‘SPC joins the global HIV and AIDS community in expressing sadness at the loss of Professor Lange and condolences to his family and relatives. It is hoped that his death will not weaken but rather further strengthen our collective resolve in the response to HIV and AIDS at national, regional and international levels,’ said Dr Colin Tukuitonga, Director-General of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC).
Although the burden of HIV and AIDS in the Pacific is not as high as in other parts of the world, there are people living with HIV in the region who badly need anti-retroviral therapy, including to prevent parent to child transmission.
A cure for and immunization against HIV may yet be far away, but existing combination therapies can save lives – including in the Pacific – and it is critical to ensure that everyone who needs treatment receives it.
For more information, contact Dr Dennie Iniakwala (Tel.: +679 337 933 69; email: firstname.lastname@example.org) or visit the SPC website: www.spc.int.