Jean Ebohs mission in life is to share this important message with young women: Risky sexual behavior can leave you infected with HIV and AIDS. Eboh 98, a College of Nursing graduate student, has been working as a research assistant with nursing professor Dianne Morrison-Beedy on a study funded by the National Institute of Nursing Research aimed at reversing the increase of HIV cases among young women. "Adolescents dont realize the impact of HIV infections," says Eboh, an Oklahoma native and the mother of two who has been a nurse for eight years. "Until the past few years, all the educational information about HIV was geared toward older people. There really wasnt a focus on adolescents, which is why theres been an increase in HIV in that age group. Thats especially true in the Syracuse area, where there is a high rate of sexually transmitted diseases and teenage pregnancies."
According to the Onondaga County Health Department, teens ages 15 to 19 have the highest rate of gonorrhea locally and nationally compared to other age groups. To spread the news about preventing HIV, Eboh visits schools and community centers in the Syracuse area, speaking to young inner-city women ages 14 through 19. She teaches them about high-risk behaviors, how HIV spreads, and the motivation to abstain from such activities. "We dont quote statistics or do a textbook and lecture formatthats boring," she says. "We try to make the message more appropriate to the age group, using the terminology they use in their lives. We also know that kids like games, so we let them role play and act out creative ways to say no to risky sexual behavior in a non-threatening place."
To reach an even larger audience, Eboh was part of a collaborative effort between the College of Nursing and the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications that resulted in the production of an interactive CD-ROM about HIV and AIDS called "A Day With Tatyana." Eboh served as a content expert for the CD.
A woman of extraordinary energy and drive, Eboh works full time for a medical registry in Syracuse, caring for private home-care patients, in addition to doing masters degree studies and research.
Morrison-Beedy has high praise for Eboh, who asked to be part of her research team even though she had little previous research experience. "Jean was ripe for a challenge," says Morrison-Beedy. "She didnt have research skills, but she did have drive and an interest in learning. As an African American female who has dealt with clients with very risky behavior in a clinical setting, Jean brings a unique perspective that is a plus for our team."
Ebohs work with HIV- and AIDS-infected women gives her a firsthand look at the consequences the disease has for women and their families. "If both a mother and child are HIV-positive, many times the mother will die because she makes sure the childs needs are met over hers," Eboh says.
In 1997, Eboh went to France to study the countrys approach to treating patients with HIV and found it vastly different from how HIV patients are treated in the United States. "The French system is holisticit provides for a patients needs from a multidisciplinary standpoint," Eboh says. "Patients receive all their care in one place, so they arent using up their precious energy running from place to place to get the medical, social, and nutritional services they need." She presented her findings last year at Long-Term HIV Health in the United States, a conference in Connecticut on holistic health care.
Ebohs goal is to earn a doctoral degree and continue to teach and do research, which has become her passion. "I am so pleased that SU has such a strong research component," she says. "The College of Nursing offers its students so many research opportunitiesto me, thats important."
Morrison-Beedy is thrilled that Eboh has the "research bug." "I love working with Jean, she so much wants to learn," Morrison-Beedy says. "Shes like a little sponge. Any student like that makes a teacher want to give more and more."