Tributes were paid to the six delegates who lost their lives aboard flight MH17 at the opening session of the 20th International AIDS Conference in Melbourne over the weekend.

A one minute global moment of remembrance was held in their honour with eleven former, present and future presidents of the International AIDS Society onstage together with representatives from those organizations who lost colleagues, the World Health Organization, AIDS Fonds, Stop AIDS Now, The Female Health Company, the Amsterdam Institute for Global Health and Development and members of the Dutch HIV research community.

A letter of condolence and support was also read out by Mr Lambert Grijns, the Dutch ambassador for sexual and reproductive health and rights and HIV/AIDS.

Condolence books are circulating onsite at the conference for the duration of the event.

On Tuesday July 22 at 6:00pm, a candlelight vigil will be held at Federation Square in the centre of Melbourne.

Some 12,000 participants from all over the world have gathered in Melbourne for the start of the 20th International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2014). Under the theme Stepping up the Pace, during the five days of the conference delegates will discuss the latest research developments and will hear about the status of the epidemic from world renowned experts.

The conference runs through until Friday, 25 July at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre.

AIDS 2014 will offer delegates a strong scientific programme with presentations around hot topics including HIV cure strategies and challenges; HIV prevention via Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP), Treatment as Prevention (TasP), and voluntary medical male circumcision; Tuberculosis and Hepatitis C co-infection; and HIV and hormonal contraception.

At the AIDS 2014 Opening Sessions, speakers discussed the encouraging data related to access treatment and reducing new HIV infections, but reminded the audience that HIV is far from being defeated and that stigma and discrimination towards Key Affected Population pose a major barrier to the end of the epidemic.

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