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World AIDS day

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by Dr. Sujatha Samarakoon

First recognized in 1988, World AIDS Day falls on December 1 each year. Every year, on December 1, the world commemorates World AIDS Day. On this day, people around the world unite to show support for people living with and affected by HIV and to remember those who lost their lives to AIDS.

An estimated 40 million people worldwide have died of AIDS since 1981, and an estimated 38 million are living with HIV by end 20191 and 1.7 million became newly infected in 20191 making it one of the most important global public health issues in recorded history. Despite recent improvements in treatment, the AIDS epidemic still claims an estimated two million lives each year, of which more than 250,000 are children1.

Since 1988, Sri Lanka has been commemorating World AIDS day which is dedicated to spreading awareness of the AIDS pandemic and the need to prevent and control of HIV in the country and to remember those who have died of the disease.

The red ribbon has become an internationally recognized symbol for AIDS awareness, worn by people throughout the year in support of people living with HIV and in remembrance of those who have died.

Sri Lanka is categorized as a country with a low prevalence of HIV infection as the HIV prevalence among adults above 15 years of age was 0.1% as of end 20192. At the end of 2019, it is estimated that around 3,600 people are living with HIV in the country2. The main mode of transmission is through unprotected sex2. The National STD/AIDS Control Program (NSACP) of the Ministry of Health, which spearheads the national response to HIV/AIDS commenced interventions even before the first HIV infection was diagnosed in the country in 1986. The initial programs were mainly to create awareness among the general population especially the youth and women on methods of prevention. Concomitantly HIV testing services were introduced free of charge in the government sector where people were able to get the HIV test done to know their status maintaining confidentiality.

A policy decision was made to screen all donated blood for HIV infection in the public sector and also the private sector. The outcome of this timely decision was that since year 2000 no blood transfusion associated HIV infections have been reported to the national programme. This was a great achievement for the health sector and the people of Sri Lanka. Awareness programs were then expanded to involve the key population groups or populations most at risk to HIV infection due to a variety of reasons including high risk sexual behaviors. The highest prevalence of HIV is reported among men who have sex with men (MSM) at 1.5%2. HIV prevalence is also reported among trans-gender women (TGW), female sex workers (FSW), beach boys (BB) and injecting drug users (PWID)2. Other high-risk groups include prisoners, drug users and migrant workers. Between 2011 and 2019, new HIV infections among adult males have been increasing exponentially from 78 cases to 359 cases, which is a 460% increase2. Currently, the national programme is reaching out to key population groups using several approaches especially to reach the hidden high risk populations.

In 2004, a policy decision was made to provide anti-retroviral therapy (ART) to people living with HIV (PLHIV) through the national programme. As of end 2019, a total of 2,302 (64%)2 knew their HIV status and 1,845 (51%)2 registered for treatment which is offered free of charge.

AIDS Foundation Lanka (AFL) was established in 2008 after the Eigth International Conference on AIDS in Asia & Pacific (ICAAP) was held in Sri Lanka. The objectives of the AFL is to support the National STD/AIDS Control Programme in conducting awareness programmes to educate the general population and key population groups on basic facts of HIV/AIDS, access and availability of services and support people living with HIV.

Throughout the years, AIDS Foundation Lanka has reached out to several population groups such as out-of school youth, formal and informal sector workers and healthcare workers in educating them on basic facts of HIV which includes the methods of transmission and prevention, availability of services and the need to dispel stigma and discrimination. Several awareness programs were held at workplaces, hospitals and communities. These programs are conducted to support prevention efforts and also the “test and treat” policy of the national program by encouraging those who are living with HIV and do not know their status to get themselves tested for HIV. People with HIV who are aware of their status, take ART daily as prescribed which helps to control the replication of the virus and keep an undetectable viral load which enables to live healthy lives and have effectively no risk of sexually transmitting HIV to their HIV-negative partners.

Every year, AFL commemorates the World AIDS Day by conducting awareness programs for the general public including women and youth.

Although a non-profit organization, AIDS Foundation Lanka, continuously supports people living with HIV by providing them a nutritious food package monthly, educational grants, book vouchers, school bags and shoes, tuition and transport fees for children infected and affected by HIV. Some are supported in initiating self-employment income generating projects and by paying overdue housing loans. One objective of these support schemes is to strengthen the link of PLHIV with the national programme as around 10-20% of patients registered with the national program defaults attending services.

During the COVID-19 period, the national program has made every effort to provide HIV testing services, treatment and care. The AFL has supported these endeavors by increasing the food package allowances, transport allowances to travel to HIV service providing clinics and on-line tuition fees for students.

AIDS Foundation Lanka is supported by several well-wishers who have undertaken to look after an individual or a family. The well-wisher provides the nutrition package or tuition fees to AFL and AFL handles all donations maintaining confidentiality. Some school children through their social clubs, interact clubs have come forward to donate nutrition packages, school books and other utilities. HIV positive pregnant women are provided with additional nutrition support and a maternity kit which contains baby clothes and other utilities for mother and baby worth SLR 8,000/=. All PLHIV related support activities are carried out maintaining confidentiality of donors and recipients. AFL is located at the first Floor of Sri Lanka Medical Association (SLMA), No 6, Wijerama Mawatha Colombo 7. Phone number 011-2690230.

(The writer is a Consultant Venereologist and President AIDS Foundation Lanka)



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Features

The Boss Up Story

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Boss Up isn’t merely a brand name. It’s a manifestation of resilience and inner power in the form of a branding and social media marketing agency. Hafsa Killru, the Founder of Boss Up has a personal story and determination to ‘boss up’ that propelled her to launch her own venture to empower entrepreneurship, especially among small businesses.

Beginnings

The environment one grows up in has a remarkable effect on a young child’s mind. Watching two strong women in the family redefine the role of feminine power, a young Hafsa grew up ambitious too. Although brimming with the desire to create a change, her childhood was fraught with challenges that plague many children today – bullying. She was subject to severe bullying since the tender age of 10 at her places of education, which affected both her mental and physical health.

“I never fit in anywhere. I was never welcome among the cliques. But I didn’t let it affect my confidence. Keeping my circle small helped me stay focused on my studies. I’d spend this time alone in school libraries, often reading encyclopedias,” says Hafsa. “The bullying worsened in my teenage years. I was lonely but it worked out in my favour because I was never, and still not, someone who worries about ‘what will others say’ — a key obstacle in many people’s lives. Not having many friends meant I was not under peer pressure. This allowed me to be my authentic self.”

Hafsa’s writing career began quite unexpectedly when she was 17. Not only is she a content writer but also a poet who writes evocatively about mental health, healing and empowerment. But this didn’t come by easily either.

During her higher studies, those she considered to be her friends tried to crush her growth mindset, which eventually took a toll on her. It was only when she managed to remove herself from such environments did she become more self-aware and regain her confidence, thanks to the solitude it brought into her life.Yet again, a new set of obstacles awaited her in her early 20s. In 2019, she was turned down by over 20 companies within three months alone, which led to deep frustration and self-doubt. Although she had freelancing opportunities, the lockdown only added to her troubles.

But that’s when something clicked into place – an idea so obvious, so big and so right for her that Hafsa knew it was what all these adversities were pushing her towards. She realised the lockdown was putting undue pressure on businesses and it needed a solution. Especially small businesses were struggling to go online and create a sustainable brand, and that too at an affordable rate. How could they compete with incumbent brands with massive budgets and breakthrough technologies? She sought to give them the edge they needed and thus, Boss Up was born in October 2020.

“Inviting change, taking charge of the situation and choosing to do something on my own has to be, although scary, the most liberating decision I have ever made,” admits Hafsa. “The lockdown wasn’t the time for businesses to go silent. They needed business and marketing solutions that would help them overcome the situation.”

In today’s contemporary business world, a business of any size will only be running a losing race if it hasn’t developed a strong social media presence or a clear brand strategy. Hence, Boss Up ensures equal opportunities are given to entrepreneurs from all walks of life.

One and a half years into the business, Boss up is now global with its wings spread across countries like the UK, Canada, Dubai, Qatar, the Maldives and Australia, and is backed by a strong team of young and passionate minds.

The Purpose

Boss Up’s primary goal is to uplift entrepreneurs. The brand is also a strong advocate for inner power, confidence and resilience — the three main driving forces of ambition. It intends to help people who hail from struggling backgrounds; the ones who are inundated with a lack of support, seek self-sufficiency and are hungry to design a unique identity for themselves.The brand also strives to treat everyone at work with compassion and empathy whilst leading with kindness as it is crucial to reform work cultures that are hazardous to oneself.

Reach out to HAfsa via Instagram @hafsa_killru @bossup_srilanka or email bossup_srilanka@gmail.com.

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The Switch of Trend in Fashion After the Pandemic 2022

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There has been an immense change in the Industry of Fashion after the pandemic struck us all hard. Currently, the trends of fashion have also taken a big turn towards affordable fashion trending styles and outfits. The Fashion boom has grown to become steadily slow for the seasonal styles and basic needs of clothing as well.

The current scenario of fashion life is always at a peak, and even after the Covid-19 pandemic, we have still seen slow growth in the need for fashion. There are of course certain aspects that have affected the industry and declined surplus. However, fashion and clothing have become a BASIC need for humans across the globe.

From shopping high-end couture to higher brand apparel, the trend has shifted to move on to sustainable clothing and organic clothing pieces. For example, we have become more aware of locally produced clothing brands and organic fabrics of our country. Made in India clothing and brands are emerging at a higher graph.Let’s take a look at the Current Change in Fashion Trends due to Pandemic 2022

Sustainable Outfits After the Pandemic

This is something most have been finding a basic need in clothing. Spending over and over again on the same kinds of clothing has and will reduce in the future. Buying clothing and fashion pieces that last for longer is the key to saving more than before. Buying pieces like basic Tees, Pants which may be styled over and over again is what the trend is shifting towards.

Budget Range of Fashion Brands are Accepted higher

Since the ban of Rowme and Shein-like brands and online websites in India, other national brands have started to make affordable fashion pieces for their customers. Styles and trends of fashion in the budget are what the people will be looking out for since the economic growth of people has dropped. Investing in fashion will never end until there will be a supply, the only difference is the budget range brands have a huge change of acceptance now since the pandemic.

Change of Styles worn to Work or Office Fashion after the Pandemic

Since the depression, people may have just stopped feeling happier may want to take the effort to dress like before. Styles of fashion in a simple and classy fashion will emerge largely than before. Choosing Plains or Solids overprints and pattern or neutrals over new trending colors and the print patterns is being seen for workwear fashion.

Change of Trends and Styles for Indian Festival Wear after the Pandemic

In the same way as the above point mentions, dressing special occasions will take a shift. Looking at the financial conditions currently, customers will be buying lesser for Festive wear than before. Styling the same pieces with a change of new additions of budget festive wear will be trending. Sarees and salwar suits in silks, choosing cotton, and linen kurta sets over the designer trends are to be seen this year during Indian festivals.

Choosing Budget Wedding Wear Over Designer Wedding Wear

When it comes to weddings, the cost goes to the highest for any customer. But the pandemic has changed how weddings will be taking place. The cost of weddings has declined drastically and shopping for Indian weddings has grown to choose mid-range wedding wear over high-end designer wear. Saving more during weddings, styles of lehengas, sarees, shalwar suits, or sherwanis for weddings that are in mid-range is a new trend.

From styling men’s kurta suits styles for the basic function of weddings to choosing classic or budget range sarees and suits for the bride’s ceremonies will take up a new fashion trend look. Making a choice of ONE heavy wear Lehenga and Sherwani may be what the soon-to-wed couples be looking for.Designer wear which can be restyled or reused and worn for other occasions and weddings is also a trend to grow rapidly. Saving much more for the bridal and groom’s outfit looks.

Shopping Online Increased for clothing after the Pandemic

The safer way to buy clothing has become a focus for all customers going towards online shopping. The percentage of online buyers has rapidly increased for clothes after the pandemic. From casual wear shopping online to fashion shopping for festivals and weddings, all have become much easier and more convenient for consumers.

Websites and businesses are working to grow even wider with Online Shopping. Connecting with customers personally for their shopping experiences to taking a new addition in budget clothing varieties for the customers is what’s taking place.

Online shopping has become a trend We have set an all-new trend for our customers It brings more trust and safety to customers. Shopping for wedding wear online only gets comfortable for all when sitting back home and shopping Fashion Shopping after the Pandemic via on-line shooping is what keeps all customers happier.

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Captivating streetwear for today’s fashionable girls

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The latest street fashion brand Girls by Dillys under the umbrella of Dilly’s was launched recently introducing trending new pieces to help girls carry the distinct personality and style to be the fashionable girl of today.

Girl by Dilly’s is a creative street fashion brand that focuses on vibrant colors, textures, and prints to bring out the youthful exuberance of today’s girls. The brand has emphasized on contrasting color combinations. The ethos of this brand is creativity and having fun. Girl by Dilly’s is dedicated to the free-spirited girls who have their own super powers and a bold attitude. Girls are encouraged to mix and create unique styles to introduce their own identity in a creative and playful way.

This brand is the new lifestyle for confident girls who love to enjoy freedom, youth and individuality. The brand has different style combinations from casual to evening wear to make the overall look fashionable and completely their own. The brand tagline ‘All about a Girl’ is a reminder to every girl that she is unique and beautiful.

To ensure glam and comfort, all Girl by Dilly’s products are crafted using quality fabrics and technical know-how. The brand offers a wide range of stylish ready-to-wear pieces, from tops, skirts, pants, shorts, dresses, rompers, jump suits, crop tops, and t-shirts. The brand has introduced batik into the collection with a fabulous finishing touch to elevate its signature styles. The brand is also introducing a comfortable t-shirt collection with inspirational slogans and line art to share a positive message with society.

Dilani Wijeyesekera – Director of Girl by Dilly’s stated, “We became aware of a notable gap in today’s market for fashionable streetwear clothing for girls. Today’s new generation of girls have a different youthful energy about them. They are fun, bold, carefree and energetic and they want the whole world to see that. Girl by Dilly’s is perfect for such girls as it helps them find their own identity through our collection of vibrant colours and creative styles that they can mix and match to come up with eye-catching outfits. Every piece of Girl by Dilly’s has the look and feel of fun and vibrancy.”

With the launch, Girl by Dilly’s is providing an introductory offer to all loyalty customers where they can avail themselves to a 15% discount on all products until 7th August 2022, both on online and at the flagship store. A selection of special giveaways has also been lined up in the coming weeks for all social media followers.

For the latest Girl by Dilly’s updates and new releases, follow them on Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok using @dillyandcarlo. The latest Girl by Dilly’s collections are available at the Flagship Store on the website www.dillyandcarlo.com.

Dilly’s was established in 1987 to cater to Colombo’s desire for high-end designer wear with a local twist. As the company grew, Dilly’s introduced its second brand to the market, this time to cater to menswear. Carlo was established in 2007 and exemplified stylish men’s clothing for all ages. The brand is housing its distinct designer ranges to cater to the entire wardrobe requirement of modern men and women.

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