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WHO staffer killed in MH17 en route to AIDS conference

On the eve of a large international AIDS conference in Australia, conference-goers are learning that they may have lost some of their colleagues on MH17.

Glenn Thomas, a World Health Organization media relations coordinator, has died in the crash, according to Dr. Haileyesus Getahun, coordinator of the WHO's Global TB program, and Dr. Rachel Baggaley, of the HIV Department at the WHO.

Dr. Baggaley had just landed in Melbourne when she heard about the news. "I'm very shocked," she said. "I'm just devastated. He's a very close colleague whom I work with on a daily basis." She added: "He just had his birthday, he was going to plan all sorts of celebrations."

Several WHO staffers were on flights to the conference, and Dr. Baggaley said she is awaiting confirmation about who else was on flight 17.

An outpouring of grief has emerged on Twitter as conference attendees to the 20th international AIDS conference in Melbourne Australia learn of colleagues who may have been affected.

The conference, AIDS 2014, runs from July 20-25.