At least 25 African delegates to the international AIDS conference in Melbourne last month have stayed on to seek asylum in Australia, refugee advocates say.
Pamela Curr, from the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre (ASRC) said she believed 25 people whose visas had expired or were set to expire had sought advice about seeking refugee protection in Australia.
"Clearly they are delegates that come from countries where to work in the AIDS field is a life-threatening proposition," Ms Curr said.
"It seems that some of them have been considering whether they think they can survive in their countries of origin, or whether they should try to survive by getting refugee protection in Australia."
The CEO of crisis accommodation service HomeGround, Heather Holst, said 14 of the delegates had sought her organisation's help to find shelter in Melbourne.
"Their situation is that they're in fear of returning and that they need somewhere to stay right now," Ms Holst said.
"We leave the seeking asylum and the legal position to the experts, but our piece is if anybody in Melbourne needs somewhere to stay, we'll try to help them with that."
The 20th International AIDS Conference wrapped up on July 25, after five days.Australia offers 'intoxicating freedom': ASRC
Ms Curr said it was not unheard of for conference delegates to seek asylum in Australia.
"When people have come from countries where their daily lives are threatened by violence and politics, and they come to Australia and take a deep breath, walk down the street, and know that no one is going to kill them. It's a very intoxicating freedom," she said.
"We've had people in the past who have sought asylum and many of them have been granted asylum because their claims under the refugee protection are so strong.
"A refugee visa is one of the hardest visas to get in this country, you don't just get it easily, these people's claims will be assessed in line with the refugee convention and if they have a claim we hope that the government would extend them protection."
The ABC has contacted the Immigration Department for comment.