Six prominent AIDS researchers and activists, all flying on the Malaysia Airlines plane that was gunned down over Ukraine, were honored and memorialized at the 20th International AIDS Conference in Melbourne on Sunday, the AP reports. The researchers were en route to Australia when the plane was shot down.

The number of researchers aboard the downed flight was originally thought to be over 100, but that rumor was debunked Friday. The six activists, five Dutch nationals and one Brit, were given a moment of silence before the opening of the conference today. Joep Lange was the former president of the International AIDS Society and a prominent figure in the AIDS research community.

Via the AP:

The president of the International Aids Society, Francoise Barre-Sinoussi, dedicated the conference to those who were killed, and a candlelight vigil will be held Tuesday to commemorate their lives. Condolence books were also being passed around for attendees to sign.

"It's a really important time for what we think everyone needs, which is a space to grieve and to respect the six members of our community that died on MH17," conference co-chair Sharon Lewin said.

The New York Times has profiled each member of the AIDS research community aboard the MH17 flight. As Michel Sidibé, executive director of Unaids said in a statement, "the deaths of so many committed people working against H.I.V. will be a great loss."

[Image via AP]