By Amy Waldman
Swaziland AIDS crisis
Corruption in developing countries
The darker, the fouler
Lack of prepared teachers, money
In the 20 years since AIDS became a household word, millions of people have died of the disease, and millions more become infected each year. Thirty six million people are currently living with AIDS, and more than 25 million of them live in Sub-Saharan Africa. Despite this, many Africans remain uneducated about how HIV, the virus that causes the disease, is spread. And many of those who do know are convinced they will not become infected.
aggravate Swaziland AIDS crisis
Theres a lot of ignorance, which is scary, said Aaron Buseh, who recently joined UWMs nursing faculty after receiving his Ph.D. in May from the School of Nursing here.
Click on map for larger image. Map courtesy Aaron Buseh.
Busehs dissertation was a study assessing sexual risk behavior and its relationship to the transmission of HIV/AIDS among teenagers in Swaziland.
More than 25 percent of the adult population in this small country in Sub-Saharan Africa is infected with HIV/AIDS. Twelve thousand children have been orphaned and 7,100 adults and children die yearly. Educating adolescents on risk and prevention is key, Buseh says. If you look at this disease and how you can prevent it or stop it, it has to be this age group or even younger.
Because he had conducted a 1998 study on preventing and reducing the spread of AIDS in Swaziland, Buseh had already established contacts within the Ministry of Health. As a result, he surveyed 941 urban and rural teenagers.
His most surprising discovery was how similar the teens were to their American counterparts.
I did see some differences, he said, but it seems like kids are going to be the same almost all over. As far as their exposure to media and the things teenagers doa lot of them were into hip-hop and pop culture.
Buseh also discovered that while most of the students accurately perceived AIDS as a serious health problem in Swaziland, boys and students in urban areas knew substantially more about the disease and its transition than their rural and female counterparts. Of the 941 students surveyed, 54 percent reported having had sexual intercourse during their lifetime, while 33 percent indicated that they were currently sexually active. While more than half did not see themselves at high risk for contracting the disease, more than 75 percent reported that they would feel shame if they did so. Many also believed it was possible to get the disease either from casual contact with an infected person, or from mosquitoes, and felt there was little they could do to protect themselves. Nonetheless, most stated that people their age should be taught how to protect themselves from contracting AIDS, and the majority preferred to learn how from a health care educator.
While most school principals Buseh interviewed said AIDS curricula existed in their schools, they also said instruction was often hampered by insufficient preparation among teachers.
|Photo courtesy Aaron Buseh
UWM doctoral student Aaron Buseh and nurses from St. Phillips Mission visited this Swaziland homestead to provide basic health care to people in the area. Buseh says this picture of the homestead, with its rugged terrain, shows the need for more health and economic development programs in the rural area of the country.
As a result of his study, Buseh was able to make some specific recommendations to the governments Ministry of Health. One was to have them go to the schools and teach, or train teachers.
But, he said, that and other measures for preventing more deaths from HIV cost money. And thats a huge problem for a country where diarrhea is still the number one killer, malaria and malnutrition are major public health issues, and most families struggle just to afford food.
Buseh did, however, come away with one important way to help stop AIDS from killing off future generations.
Because 13 percent of the teens reported that they were forced into having intercourse for the first time, Buseh is concerned that a lot of teensmostly girlsare being raped.
Therefore, he said, educating boys early on about how relating to girls and teaching girls to be more assertive could be key factors in reducing future HIV/AIDS cases.
He is now seeking funding to implement a prevention/intervention program in schools there. When he returns, some of his former professorsnow colleaguesat UWM already been know what theyd like him to do next.
(They) were interested in me replicating (the study) in the U.S., and seeing how different it would be, he said.
Corruption in developing countries hurts currency values
When government officials engage in corruptionusing the privilege of public office to line their own pocketstheyre lowering the exchange rate of the very currency theyre accumulating. Thats the discovery of Abm Nasir, a recent Ph.D. graduate in economics, and his adviser, Professor Mohsen Bahmani-Oskooee.
The two are the first to establish a relationship between corruption and exchange rates, and their paper on the subject, Corruption, Law & Order, and Bureaucracy and Real Exchange Rate will appear in the journal Economic Development and Cultural Change. The piece grew out of Nasirs dissertation, Productivity Bias, Institutional Factors, and Real Exchange Rates: An Empirical Analysis.
For Nasir, a native of Bangladesh, the study grew out of his desire to determine the main factor preventing economic health and growth in his and other developing countries.
When a country has a high corruption rate and inefficient bureaucracy, what happens is they usually have a very inefficient tax system, he explains. That, coupled with low foreign investmentthe norm in developing countriesleads to those governments influencing the countrys central bank to create more money or create some other system of deficit financing. That, in turn, leads to galloping inflation rates. And those inflation rates have a direct bearing on the countrys exchange rate.
What it means to the large numbers of poor people living in these countries is relentless and unending poverty.
What happens is that you have to spend a lot of time away from work in order to get a drivers license because you have to stand in line for a long time, Nasir says. Also in these countries, people bribe officials to escape the queue.
Most bureaucrats arent paid well because of the problems in collecting taxes, Nasir says. They begin to engage in corruptiontaking bribesin order to supplement their incomes. This means citizens needing government services have to come up with bribe money to get what they want or need in a timely manner, or lose timeand moneybecause they dont have or arent willing to pay bribes.
Nasirs original career goal, as an undergraduate economics student in Bangladesh, was to work on social and economic problems there. Those plans, now that hes accepted a faculty post at North Carolina Central University, have expanded.
I want to work on general issues like (this one) and apply those issues in third-world countries and developing countries, he says, and eventually be an economic policy adviser for those countries.
Nasir praises Bahmani-Oskooee for his role in helping Nasir identify a dissertation topic, and for his role as adviser.
Hes very meticulous in finding small problems and relating them to economic variables, Nasir says, adding that Bahmani-Oskooee was also instrumental in his decision to come to UWM. Hes one of the most important people in my life. He changed the way I taught and will be doing research. He does that for all his graduate students, especially if his students are hardworking. He likes them and helps them very much.
Nasir is currently working for the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), DC; his project relates to the government budget in Bangladesh.
Darker road uniforms may lead to more refs crying foul
Refereeing sporting events is not for the faint-heartedor weak-eyed. Referees have to think quickly, move quickly, and react even faster. And if thats not enough, theyve got to be fair when they make a call. Thats not an easy thing to do when deciding on events that, although they happen in a fraction of a second, affect the shape of an entire season.
Thats why longtime sports fan Mark McGrath chose to focus his masters thesis in communication on whether the color of a teams jersey influenced the number of negative calls by referees. Although McGrath focused his study on college basketball teams, the idea for the paper came to him while watching another sportfootball.
Watching teams like the Oakland Raiders, who wore black, and the Atlanta Falcons, who wore black, recalls McGrath of his early days as a spectator, (I noticed that) these teams were called for many more penalties than other teams, and I thought to myself, this could be because of the colors they wore.
McGrath took his idea to his adviser, Professor Mike Allen. When Allen validated McGraths contentionthat the issue was definitely one of non-verbal interpersonal communicationMcGrath began to search out the best way to test his hypothesis.
Could the colors worn by visiting opponents influence the outcome of UWM Panthers home games? Maybe, says recent master's graduate Mark McGrath.
Looking at prior research on the topic, McGrath quickly learned that the correlation between football calls and jersey color had been studied a lot, but the same could not be said for basketball.
McGrath then selected 21 college basketball teams, and tallied the number of personal fouls each got during home and away games in the 1999-2000 season. He and Allen selected the teams based on the color jerseys they wore on the road.
In college basketball, every team wears white or yellow jerseys at home, but they wear all different colors on the road, McGrath explains.
McGrath then compared the number of fouls per home game to the number per away game for each team, the win-loss record of each team and its opponent.
This was crucial, says McGrath, because he wanted to separate the jersey color-related calls from those due to inferior playing by a team that just happened to be wearing dark jerseys. McGrath also factored in the win-loss records of each team for the 1998-99 season, just to take it an extra step.
His findings supported what hed noticed anecdotally for years.
In general, they got called for more fouls than teams that wore lighter-colored jerseys on the road, he says.
McGrath, who plans to return to school for a Ph.D. in communication after getting a few years of work experience under his belt, hasnt sent his findings to any of the teams he studied. But, he says, coaches and players arent the people he most wants to read his thesis.
Id really like to make the referees aware of this, he says, because maybe there would be more objective officiating if they were aware of the bias.