On Thursday July 17 2014, professor Joep Lange, Aids pioneer from Amsterdam, died in a fatal plane crash over Ukrain on his way to the 20th International Aids Conference in Melbourne.
He was a young doctor at the Amsterdam Medical Center in 1983 when Aids hit the gay community. Together with Sven Danner among others he set to work.
Contrary to the USA they did this unbiased towards the groups that were hit hardest: gay/bisexual men and drug users. They set the tone for research and attitude for many countries.
Although officially not credited with the invention of the combination therapy, prof Joep Lange was sure he invented it.
Later he would work for the WHO, the Amsterdam Institute for Global Health and Development and the International AIDS Society.
Knowing that there were medicines and therapies available against Hiv/Aids in the western world, but not for Africans, he set to work to get access for them too.
He was a great scientist, and a warm person who never tired to do research, sit on advisory boards, and never forgot the person behind the illness.
Together with professor Lange in the fatal plane were:
- Pim de Kuijer, lobbyist Aids Fonds/STOP AIDS NOW
- Lucie van Mens, Director of Support at The Female Health Company
- Martine de Schutter, Program Manager Aids Fonds/STOP AIDS NOW
- Glenn Thomas, World Health Organisation
- Jacqueline van Tongeren, Amsterdam Institute for Global Health and Development and wife to professor Joep Lange
The gay community owes these people a lot and we think of them with admiration and gratitude.