Reporting Texas
News and features from UT-Austin's School of Journalism

Health

Harm Reduction Services Struggle to Tame Austin’s Accelerating Opioid Overdose Rates

With overdose deaths mounting, harm reduction groups are providing overdose reversal medications and other supplies to ensure safer substance use and generally healthier living. But the groups operate in a legal gray area. 
“This work is important for everybody here,” one clinic coordinator said after a day of outreach in his group’s mobile clinic. “Don’t you know we all can go to jail right now? Because everything that we do is illegal, technically. When I was doing the (safe syringe exchange) van, all of that stuff on there was illegal. But guess what? Ain’t never stopped me.”
The group takes its clinic van to several encampments each Tuesday through Friday, providing Narcan nasal spray, an opioid overdose reversal medication, safe smoke kits, needle exchanges, hygiene supplies, wound care kits and Plan B contraception pills.
“Fundamentally, harm reduction is about saving people’s lives and increasing safety around unsafe behaviors,” said one expert.

UT Students Walk Out in Support of Reproductive and Trans Rights

University of Texas students walked out of their classrooms as part of the National Day of Student Action, a nationwide peaceful protest for reproductive rights and trans rights after the Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade in June.   

The Graduate Student Action Network organized walkouts at about 50 universities in 25 states, including the University of Nebraska, the University of Arkansas, West Virginia University, the City University of New York and New York University.    

“It’s incredibly exciting,” said one student. “I think we had an excellent turnout. Just seeing the range of speakers and organizations that we come from and all of the backgrounds is incredibly inspiring. Reproductive justice is such an intersectional issue, all of the perspectives here today.”

Nurses Rally at Capitol to Fight for Workplace Safety

Several dozen Texas nurses demanded workplace changes at a rally outside the Capitol May 12.

Therapists: Calling Health Care for Trans Kids ‘Child Abuse’ Is Hateful and Dangerous

Central Texas counselors and psychologists who work with transgender adolescents say Texas politicians’ recent statements about trans therapy are an attempt to rile up voters at the cost of an extremely vulnerable community.   

Mar 02, 2022

As Texas Republicans Attack Gender-Affirming Health Care, Moms of Trans Children Say They’re Not Backing Down

Parents of transgender children in Texas say they are “freaking out.” They are unnerved by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s directive on Feb. 22 telling the Department of Family and Protective Services to investigate reports of transgender youth in Texas receiving gender-affirming health care. Abbott’s letter contends that procedures such as hormonal treatments, gender-aligning surgery or the use of puberty-blockers is child abuse under state law. 

On March 2, the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas said it had filed a lawsuit to block Abbott’s directive. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of a DFPS employee who is a parent of a transgender teenager and has already had an investigator come to their home.

Dec 24, 2021

UT’s Mental Health Services Adjust to Life in a Pandemic

Students are returning to in-person counseling at the University of Texas Counseling and Mental Health Center after the COVID-19 pandemic limited in-person sessions. 

Dec 07, 2021

UT Study Hopes to Curb LGBTQ Suicide Rates

In April 2021, Lilith, a University of Texas student, attempted taking her own life rather than starting her first year of college. “Most people have idealized versions of themselves, someone they’re going to become one day,” Lilith said. “I never saw this person at the end of the road so I started to think to […]

Nov 29, 2021

From Pulpit to Pandemic: How Historically Black Texas Churches Spread the Word on Vaccinations

Black churches in Texas have been at the forefront of encouraging their congregations to get vaccinated and change the narrative for Black health.

Nov 24, 2021

‘It’s a Free for All’: Kratom Is Legal in Texas But Should it Be?

Supporters tout kratom as a safer alternative to opiates such as heroin and fentanyl, but medical professionals in Texas describe it as being addictive and dangerous and call for it to be categorized as a scheduled substance.

Nov 17, 2021

Insulin Price Caps in Texas Provide Relief While Raising Questions About Costs

Dawn White, a nurse from Lumberton, Texas, told lawmakers this past summer she paid $500 for a one-month supply of insulin to treat her son’s type 1 diabetes. That was with insurance. If she lacked insurance, the cost would have been more than $1,000. “Texans are dying because they cannot afford their insulin,” White said. […]

Nov 16, 2021

Texas Veterans Desperate for Treatment Find Viable Alternative in Psychedelics

Combat veterans around the nation and in Texas are turning to psychedelic drugs such as ibogaine, psilocybin, DMT and ketamine to combat PTSD, depression and anxiety. Meanwhile, Texas lawmakers are attempting to legitimize the therapies by facilitating clinical research into the drug’s effectiveness.

Oct 15, 2021

COVID-19 Infections in Pregnancy Rise as Vaccination Rate Stays Low

Pregnant people are at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19. In recent months, health officials have been raising alarms that the group needs to urgently get vaccinated.

The highest number of coronavirus-related deaths in pregnant people in a single month of the pandemic was reported in August 2021, according to a Sept. 29 health alert from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC estimates only about 31% of pregnant people are fully vaccinated. This number is even lower for Black pregnant people, at 15.6%.

Oct 15, 2021

Survivors and Seeking Help: Suicide Prevention and Recovery

Depression inflicts a pain and numbness that engulfs people in ways that no aching of the body ever could. Like any other disease, it spreads until a person is fully consumed. Yet many in our society are reluctant to speak of the disease’s worst outcome. In 2019 the U.S. Centers for Disease Control reported there […]

May 25, 2021

Sexuality in the Age of COVID

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced many people to spend a large amount of time alone, and more and more people have turned to sex therapists to explore their sexuality. 

May 18, 2021

Visually Impaired People Face Difficulties Throughout Pandemic

Some visually impaired people in Central Texas have struggled to schedule vaccines and faced other COVID-19-related challenges that might not occur to sighted people. About 700,000 people in Texas are visually impaired, according to the most recent numbers from the National Federation of the Blind. In a series of interviews with Reporting Texas, visually impaired Austinites and their advocates in Central Texas discussed the difficulty of getting vaccinated for COVID-19 and the challenge of avoiding the illness during the pandemic.

May 17, 2021

Black Mothers in Central Texas Helping Others Deal With Postpartum Depression

Black mothers in Central Texas are rising up to support women coping with postpartum depression, which disproportionately affects Black women.

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