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December 1st is World AIDS Day. It’s the perfect time for a renewed commitment to the fight against HIV/AIDS.

AIDS and HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, remain in the news and in the global consciousness. There is no known cure, and since 2000 alone more than 38 million people have become infected with the HIV virus. There were roughly 2 million new HIV infections in 2014.

The statistics are sobering. But remarkably, the numbers also tell a story of hope.

A study from the United States has found that some groups of people with HIV, especially those treated early, now have life expectancies equal to or higher than the US general population.

Even in those regions of the world hardest hit by HIV/AIDS, there is encouraging news. For almost a decade, the number of South Africans receiving antiretroviral (ARV) treatment has been rising rapidly.

The local and global responses to the HIV/AIDS crisis have made a real difference in people’s lives. And many of the organizations devoted to ending the epidemic are taking a multipronged and business-like approach to their ongoing mission.

South Africa is a Case in Point

HIV/AIDS is reportedly more prevalent in South Africa than anywhere else in the world. About 12% of the South African population is thought to be affected by the virus.

Here, the Desmond Tutu HIV Foundation (DTHF) is committed to research, treatment, training, and prevention of HIV and related infections in the country. In addition to conducting clinical trials, this not-for-profit organization provides free education, testing, and treatment for HIV and tuberculosis. This includes groundbreaking and simplified ARV treatment where just one pill a day can help manage an AIDS infection.

DTHF operates from multiple locations in Cape Town and with a mobile unit that travels to outlying townships. The Tutu Tester mobile unit provides a free comprehensive health service to under-served and vulnerable communities. It is in the field everyday offering nutrition and healthy lifestyle education, HIV counselling and testing, and point-of-care screening. Since the mobile unit began rolling in May 2008, the dedicated Tutu Tester team has seen almost 40,000 individuals.

Sound Business Practices are Part of the Fight

While organizations like the DTHF are addressing the disease on the most human of levels, their effectiveness is also increased by carefully managing their operations.

The DTHF, for example, uses software solutions such as the SAP Business One application to help ensure financial transparency and efficient fund management. A robust business management system is essential for complying with stringent governance requirements and for securing the funding necessary to keep the organization’s many programs running smoothly and moving forward.

Advanced software tools deliver a central, enterprise-wide platform that the DTHF relies on for accessing critical information, managing finances, monitoring the progress of projects, and generating required reports.

Ultimately, these capabilities allow the support and medical staff to focus more time on patient care and prevention efforts – and less on administrative duties.

The Strength of a Global Community

There is obviously still much to be done in the continuing fight against HIV and AIDS. Too many people with the virus remain undiagnosed, and according to the World Health Organization (WHO), 59% of people living with the HIV virus are still not accessing treatment.

But it is important not to lose sight of the progress that is being made.

Again according to WHO, 1.9 million people were newly enrolled on antiretroviral treatment in 2014 – one of the largest annual increases ever.

World AIDS Day is the perfect time for renewed commitment. It is also a good day to recognize what humankind is able to accomplish when we work together as a global community.

Please join me on Twitter at @JohnGWard3.

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To learn more about the business systems used by the Desmond Tutu HIV Foundation in this SAP Customer Journey.