Flags in Melbourne will be flown at half mast for the entirety of the International AIDS Conference, as a mark of respect to AIDS activists who died in yesterday’s Malaysia Airlines crash.

Around 100 people due to attend this weekend’s conference in Melbourne were reportedly among the 298 people onboard the doomed flight MH17 from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpar when it was shot down over eastern Ukraine yesterday.

Renowned Dutch HIV researcher Dr Joep Lang, AIDS campaigner Pim de Kuijer, and WHO member Glenn Thomas are among those reported to have been onboard the connecting flight.

Same Same reports: “We’ve just heard that flags in Melbourne will be flown at half mast for entire AIDS conference in respect to those lost on flight #MH17″

A firework display that was due to be held to mark the launch the conference tonight has also been cancelled as a mark of respect to the victims, and a memorial service will be held for fellow activists tomorrow afternoon.

In the Netherlands, a National Day of Mourning will be held today to remember the 173 Dutch nationals who died onboard the flight, alongside 27 Australians, 44 Malaysians (including 15 crew), 12 Indonesians and nine Britons.

Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte said: “The whole of the Netherlands is in mourning … this beautiful summer day has ended in the blackest possible way.”

Dr Rosemary Gillespie, Chief Executive at Terrence Higgins Trust, told PinkNews earlier: “We are deeply saddened by the loss of all those aboard MH17, many of them our colleagues from the international HIV field.

“The impact of the hard work and commitment of clinicians, activists and academics who devote their careers to the fight against the epidemic is immeasurable. For the HIV community to lose so many of our leading lights is a cruel blow, and one we will feel for some time.”