Among the 298 people whose deaths in the crash MH17 last week left the world saddened and diminished, the loss of the six who were on their way to the 20th International AIDS Conference in Melbourne left a community that was founded on loss and driven by the value of all lives reflecting on what their friends and colleagues left behind. We’re reading about the lives and legacies of Joep Lange, Jacqueline van Tongeren, Glenn Thomas, Lucie van Mens, Martine de Schutter, and Pim deKuijer.
Joep Lange and Jacqueline van Tongeren – While coverage of those lost aboard MH17 has focused the impact of Dr. Joep Lange’s pioneering research and visionary approach to global health, this tribute from longtime friend, writer and AIDS activist Han Nefkens offers one of the more personal memorials of Lange and his partner in life and work, Jacqueline van Tongeren. In addition, Van Tongeren’s commitment to confronting HIV is summarized on the website of ArtAIDS, on the board of which she served, while the challenges Lange faced and that lie ahead are told in this piece by his colleague and friend Professor David Cooper of the University of New South Wales.
Glenn Thomas – This tribute from RESULTS International, with which the former BBC journalist collaborated on work to raise awareness of TB in Africa and as a global health threat tells of his path from covering crocodiles and politicians, to health care access in Malawi, to his role as World Health Organization media officer. This WHO statement remembers his “ready laugh,” and love for his work, echoing memories of friends quoted in newspaper accounts.
Lucie Van Mens – This tribute from the Female Health Company where Dr. van Mens worked to make female condoms available in Africa and make women’s health care accessible and equitable, tells of a career-long commitment to improving lives. After an early career as a high school teacher, her work confronting the global impact of HIV began in 1995, and took the program director who was fluent in Dutch, English, German, Indonesian and French, around the world.
Martine de Schutter – This tribute from Stop AIDS Now tells of a journey that began with work for the World Health Organization in South America, and led to a role supporting the most vulnerable populations confronting HIV worldwide as program manager for Bridging the Gaps, a program to reach sexual minority populations and people involved in sex work with services that address their needs.
Pim de Kuijer – This personal tribute from journalist Nabeelah Shabbir for theguardian.com tells of the Dutch Stop AIDS Now lobbyist’s commitment to social justice, and quotes former European Parliament Member Lousewies van der Laan, for whom he interned: “Pim believed in understanding between countries, the rule of law and equality for all and fought for his values through his work and his political activities. Let’s try to live up to his legacy and work even harder towards a peaceful world.”