Following the conclusion of the 2014 International AIDS Conference in Melbourne, which ended its week-long run on July 25, at least 25 delegates who attended the event have declared their intentions to remain in Australia and seek asylum.

The delegates – men and women primarily from African nations including Tanzania, Uganda, and Ethopia – failed to board their flights home and declared their intentions to seek asylum. All of the delegates entered the country on tourist visas that expire in either August or October.

Fairfax Media managed to speak to some of those who remained in Melbourne to seek asylum. One man stated he had been imprisoned multiple times in his home country for being a member of an opposing political party. Another man had faced violent persecution due to his ethnicity stating “People told me ‘you should go back to your own country’.

The delegates are currently homeless and have spent their time since the conference ended being put up in motels, backpacker hostels and rooming houses across Melbourne. Homelessness service HomeGround has been assisting 14 of the delegates, but only has funding to aid them for the next three weeks.

This is not the first time asylum seekers have remained in the country following their attendance at international events. The 2008 Homeless World Cup saw 49 soccer players from Africa and the Middle East remain in Melbourne to seek asylum. Similar bids were made by attendees of the 2008 World Youth Day festivities, as well as by athletes participating in the 2006 Commonwealth Games.

At this stage it is unknown whether any of this new crop of asylum seekers is living with either HIV or AIDS. In 2006, 130 HIV-positive women from South Africa chose to remain in Canada to seek asylum following the International AIDS Conference in Toronto.

Predictably, no comment from Immigration Minister Scott Morrison was forthcoming. Presumably because these particular asylum seekers arrived by plane and will be overstaying a tourist visa; not at all dissimilar to the leading cause of illegal immigration in the country (a portion of whom, by the way, are actually causing a spike in the rate of sexually transmitted infections in the country, rather than contributing to meaningful academic discussion aimed at worldwide reduction of infection).

Still, y’know. Stopping the boats is probably a far more important concern than dealing with that issue or even simply abiding by international law.

Y’know. Probably.

Photo: Mal Fairclough via Getty Images.