From a booth on the east side of Zilker Park, a husband and wife from Ohio exceeded their dreams of helping to save lives by distributing 6,000 doses of overdose-reversing drugs.
“We thought we were gonna do a couple of festivals in the Midwest; that’s all we hoped for,” William Perry said of his lifesaving operation called This Must Be the Place. “This year, we went coast to coast and now we’re here in Austin.”
Their booth at Austin City Limits Music Festival the past two weekends served as a beacon of information on preventing fatal overdoses of fentanyl and other opioids with the nasal spray naloxone.
Perry said they found a receptive crowd in Austin.
“We were prepared to talk people into taking it and talk people into why they should have it, and obviously that was not the case,” Perry said. “All you have to do is sit and listen to us explain the signs and symptoms and how to administer the medication. It takes people two and a half minutes or so and now they’re equipped to go save a life.”
Crystal Chen’s soft voice echoed through the Senate chamber as she recounted nightmares of persecution by her own government for her religious beliefs. In the prime of her 20s, Chen was sentenced to four and a half years of forced labor and torture in China. “I was pinned to the concrete floor and force-fed an all-salt mixture which nearly killed me,” Chen said. The room filled with lawmakers was silent. “Some guards handcuffed me to a radiator pipe,” she continued. “I was left there for three days while a police chief groped my body.” Chen was among a group of victims of political and religious persecution who testified before the Senate Committee on Health and Human Services of the Texas legislature in support of Senate Bill 1040 that would prohibit health insurance companies and other benefit plans from covering organ transplant procedures in which the organs come from a country known to engage in forced organ harvesting — namely China.
Several attendees at the Texas Rally for Life said that the end of Roe v. Wade has further entrenched an increasingly hostile fight over the abortion issue.
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.
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.”
Several dozen Texas nurses demanded workplace changes at a rally outside the Capitol May 12.
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.
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.
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.
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 […]
Black churches in Texas have been at the forefront of encouraging their congregations to get vaccinated and change the narrative for Black health.
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.
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. […]
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.
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%.
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 […]