Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17: AIDS scientist Joep Lange did pioneering research with Canadians

The medical community lost one of its luminaries Thursday in the Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17 disaster, a pioneering AIDS researcher equally adept at examining assays in the laboratory and browbeating politicians on the world stage.

Joep Lange, a Dutch physician and professor of medicine at the University of Amsterdam, had been studying HIV since the discovery of the virus 30 years ago, rising to international prominence in a sometimes fractious field in part for his prescient and impassioned activism on everything from treatment regimes to health policy.

His scientific contributions included partnering with top Canadian AIDS researchers on a watershed 1998 study that helped usher in a drug treatment known as a “triple cocktail,” which became today's mainstay therapy for people with HIV. The then-controversial treatment involved a combination of three or four different types of antiviral medications, up to 20 pills a day in its early years. But it has effectively tempered the virus from a degenerative, fatal infection to a chronic and manageable ailment.

Initial results from that study were presented at an international AIDS conference in Vancouver in 1996.

Zach Dubinsky reports

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