CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WTVD) --People around the world mourn all lives lost when a Malaysia Airlines flight was shot down July 17th over Ukraine.
Among the hundreds of scientists and advocates for AIDS research killed in that crash was Joep Lange, a friend of the man in charge of UNC's Division of Infectious Diseases.
Dr. Mike Cohen smiled during a Saturday interview as he told ABC11, "Joep was a really, really big leader. He was that really rare, transparent person who made a big contribution. Universally respected and liked."
Cohen believes Lange would have continued his vocal advocacy for aggressive treatment of AIDS in patients soon after they received positive test results if his flight made it safely to the International AIDS Conference in Melbourne, Australia.
"Joep was a huge advocate of starting treatment immediately. And there were really outspoken arguments and big meetings about the right way to manage the problem," Cohen said. "And I'm sure at this meeting he would have played a very large role in the discussions of the intersection between public policy and biomedical treatment."
Lange served as president of the International AIDS Society and chaired the PharmAccess Foundation, accolades that friends like Cohen say bolster his reputation as a scientist dedicated to providing access to treatment for more people living with HIV and AIDS.
"Of the 14,000, 15,000 people working on this problem, he was an exceptional leader," said Cohen. "His leadership, his vision are going to be sorely missed in this field."
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