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Grief over Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, support for those left behind

By Katie Walmsley, CNN
July 25, 2014 -- Updated 1949 GMT (0349 HKT)
Families of crew members aboard Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 gather for a vigil Tuesday, July 22, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. All 298 people aboard the passenger plane died when it was shot down Thursday, July 17, in a rebel-controlled part of eastern Ukraine. Families of crew members aboard Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 gather for a vigil Tuesday, July 22, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. All 298 people aboard the passenger plane died when it was shot down Thursday, July 17, in a rebel-controlled part of eastern Ukraine.
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World reacts to MH17 crash
World reacts to MH17 crash
World reacts to MH17 crash
World reacts to MH17 crash
World reacts to MH17 crash
World reacts to MH17 crash
World reacts to MH17 crash
World reacts to MH17 crash
World reacts to MH17 crash
World reacts to MH17 crash
World reacts to MH17 crash
World reacts to MH17 crash
World reacts to MH17 crash
World reacts to MH17 crash
World reacts to MH17 crash
World reacts to MH17 crash
World reacts to MH17 crash
World reacts to MH17 crash
World reacts to MH17 crash
World reacts to MH17 crash
World reacts to MH17 crash
World reacts to MH17 crash
World reacts to MH17 crash
World reacts to MH17 crash
World reacts to MH17 crash
World reacts to MH17 crash
World reacts to MH17 crash
World reacts to MH17 crash
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • AIDS experts on way to Australian conference are among dead on Malaysian jet
  • UNAIDS official says "moment of sadness" offers way "to push our agenda"
  • Other groups provides support to those who have lost friends or family in air disasters

(CNN) -- As officials search for answers into the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, details are emerging about the 298 passengers and crew aboard the plane. Families, friends and mourners from around the world united on social media to express their horror and sadness over the disaster.

A Facebook page for flight attendants worldwide became a forum for grieving members of the flying community. A status update from the site administrator asked, "For those of us flying today, did you find it hard to put your uniform on and greet your passengers? I know I do." One comment below it urged, "Non crew readers (like myself): give your cabin crew a smile today."

Among the dead were a number of AIDS experts, including researcher Joep Lange, former president of the International AIDS Society. They were on their way to the International AIDS Conference in Melbourne, Australia.

"Joep Lange was a towering presence in the fight against AIDS since the beginning of the epidemic and a wonderful friend, colleague, and teacher," said amfAR CEO Kevin Robert Frost in a statement. "He inspired legions of AIDS researchers, healthcare workers and activists and was an inspiration to me personally. He will be sorely missed."

Those wishing to donate to a current project in Lange's memory could look to a study he initiated before his death. The goal of the study is to find out how starting antiretroviral treatment within 24 hours of diagnosis helps patients with HIV. You can find details here.

UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibe said he hoped the AIDS research community's work could be furthered as a way to come out of this tragedy. "We should use this moment of sadness as a moment for us to push our agenda," he said, "our agenda for saving lives of millions of people."

#AIDS2014 was trending on social media, with individuals and nonprofits tweeting their support. Some expressed concern about the impact of years of lost knowledge with those who perished on the flight.

Some asked where they could donate to support AIDS research in honor of those killed on Flight 17. Impact Your World has details of charities that fund AIDS research, including the Elton John AIDS Foundation, AMFAR, UNAIDS and the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation.

The UK based charity Kidasha confirmed on their website that they've received a surge in donations from people wishing to pay tribute to MH17 victim Richard Mayne. Mayne had trekked to Everest base camp earlier this year to raise money for the charity, and supporters took to social media to urge others to donate in his honor.

Other messages offering support poured in from around the world.

"It has been 18 years since I lost my fiancé in TWA Flight 800, yet with every new air crash, I, along with all the other families who experienced loss that day, revisit those emotions and are brought back to Day One," said Heidi Snow, referring to the plane that exploded over the shores of Long Island, New York, in 1996.

Snow is founder of ACCESS, an organization that provides support to those who have lost friends or family in air disasters.

"We want all those who are suffering from loss after this air disaster and any other disaster to know we are here, we understand, we care, and we can help you," she said.

ACCESS has a toll-free help line -- 877-227-6435 -- and a website where people can reach out to survivors from past air disasters, or get support from others who have lost people in air tragedies.

CNN Flight 17 full coverage

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Part of complete coverage on
September 9, 2014 -- Updated 1258 GMT (2058 HKT)
Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 broke apart in the air after it was hit by a burst of "high-energy objects" from outside, according to a report.
September 9, 2014 -- Updated 1140 GMT (1940 HKT)
The report into Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 says everything. And yet it says nothing about the cause of the plane's crash and the criminals.
September 9, 2014 -- Updated 1134 GMT (1934 HKT)
"There were many scenes that defied logic," writes OSCE spokesman Michael Bociurkiw, who was one of the first international observers to arrive at the site.
July 29, 2014 -- Updated 2255 GMT (0655 HKT)
During the last four months, the people of Ukraine have been fighting for their freedom, independence and European path in a war started by Russia-backed terrorists and their accomplices.
July 23, 2014 -- Updated 1857 GMT (0257 HKT)
A nun, an AIDS researcher, an athlete and a family traveling on summer vacation. These were some of the victims aboard MH17.
July 26, 2014 -- Updated 1229 GMT (2029 HKT)
The mother of two brothers killed in the MH17 plane crash has spoken of her regret at not taking her youngest son's fears over the flight seriously.
July 27, 2014 -- Updated 1801 GMT (0201 HKT)
A long line of hearses, accompanied by police, carried the remains slowly toward a Dutch military base, where forensic investigators will begin the grim work of identifying them.
July 25, 2014 -- Updated 1808 GMT (0208 HKT)
Seeing the images of the mangled wreckage of an aircraft after a crash is difficult for any flight attendant.
July 24, 2014 -- Updated 2304 GMT (0704 HKT)
The United States and its allies are angrier at Russia now over Ukraine, but will they do anything more about it -- especially Europe?
July 24, 2014 -- Updated 0700 GMT (1500 HKT)
When passengers boarded Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 last week, they couldn't have known they were about to fly over a battlefield.
July 23, 2014 -- Updated 0925 GMT (1725 HKT)
The horrifying crash has put the pro-Russia rebels center stage -- and raised all kinds of questions about who they are, what they want and who's in charge.
July 20, 2014 -- Updated 1540 GMT (2340 HKT)
Some contend that larger weapons have come into Ukraine from Russia.
July 21, 2014 -- Updated 1704 GMT (0104 HKT)
Aerial photos show the scale of the crash site and help investigators to answer lingering questions.
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