The International AIDS Conference has been criticized for its lack of transgender speakers, despite trans people being 49 times more likely to have HIV.

Speaking to the Melbourne conference, JoAnne Keatley from the Centre of Excellence for Transgender Health said the conference had done little to address the needs of trans people, despite the focus given to the gay community.

She said: “I think that many of the people on the panel recognise that trans women and men are not men who have sex with men, we are transgender women and men, and we have our own community, and our own ability to respond to the issues that are facing us.”

“Consider inviting a trans* HIV profession to represent our own response to these important updates and issues.”

“The fact that we don’t call out the fact that HIV is having this profound impact on transgender women… is just another way of erasing our gender. It dehumanises us and in effect it erases our gender identity.”

A study in April, which looked at HIV infection in trans women across 15 countries, found they were 49 times more likely to have HIV than the general population.

Brazilian HIV researcher Beatriz Grinsztejn said: “Of all populations affected by HIV, evidence suggests that the transgender populations may carry the heaviest HIV burden worldwide.”

“The rate of HIV infection among transgender people is higher than most at risk groups, yet most tracking systems do not report data on trans people systematically.”

Bill Clinton speech to the Conference earlier this week was disrupted by protesters, calling for a ‘Robin Hood’ tax to be introduced to fund AIDS research.

Thanks to the Star Observer for providing coverage of AIDS 2014.