The International AIDS Society has expressed its sadness at news that a number of colleagues and friends en-route to attend the 20th International AIDS Conference beginning in Melbourne on Sunday were on board the Malaysian Airlines MH17 flight that has crashed over Ukraine earlier today.

“At this incredibly sad and sensitive time the IAS stands with our international family and sends condolences to the loved ones of those who have been lost to this tragedy,” the statement on the www.AIDS2014.org website said.

The 20th International AIDS Conference begins in Melbourne on Sunday. It will be Australia’s largest health and development conference.

Twenty-seven Australians are believed to be among the 298 people killed.

Follow @micenet on Twitter for updates.

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