Health & Wellness

Friday, December 15, 2017

Clean needle programs allowed under New Orleans City Council measure

Posted By on Fri, Dec 15, 2017 at 12:30 PM


Community needle exchange and clean-needle programs have the support of New Orleans officials to help combat hepatitis C and HIV/AIDS transmissions as part of the city’s ramped-up efforts against opioid overdoses.

The New Orleans City Council approved a measure Dec. 14 that updates the city’s rules governing drug paraphernalia, which previously banned syringes and needles for nonmedical purposes. But Louisiana lawmakers and Gov. John Bel Edwards recently retooled drug paraphernalia rules statewide by allowing syringes for "for bona fide medical" use and giving local governments the ability to establish clean needle programs.

That rule effectively brings a formerly “underground” nonprofit network servicing hundreds of people in the metro area into a legal framework, potentially institutionalizing a service that has operated in a legally gray area while saving thousands of lives.

“We should not condemn people who have infectious disease because they have the disease of addiction,” said New Orleans Health Department Director Joseph Kanter.

Though the ordinance primarily is designed to protect needle programs and people using them, it also allows people with a prescription for medical marijuana to possess drug paraphernalia for that purpose — a measure that lines up with the state's in-progress plans for a medical marijuana program.

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Thursday, December 14, 2017

Ashe Cultural Arts Center details renovations for 20th anniversary

Posted By on Thu, Dec 14, 2017 at 5:20 PM

Architect Steven Bingler, Ashe Cultural Arts Center Executive Director Carol Bebelle and Ashe board member Al Kennedy detailed renovation plans at Ashe Power House theater.
  • Architect Steven Bingler, Ashe Cultural Arts Center Executive Director Carol Bebelle and Ashe board member Al Kennedy detailed renovation plans at Ashe Power House theater.

Ashe Cultural Arts Center Executive Director Carol Bebelle and architect Steven Bingler of Concordia described renovations to the arts and cultural center at 1712 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd. Bebelle also highlighted Ashe's mission as it begins an extended celebration of its 20th anniversary, officially falling Dec. 16, 2018.

Ashe's 18,000 square foot space hosts art shows, community events, theater and dance productions, film screenings, youth and wellness programming and more.

"Culture is taken for granted," Bebelle says. "It needs a home as well. It needs a place where people are praying, planning and working on it."

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Editorial: Louisiana parents want sex education in schools. So why are legislators balking?

Posted By on Thu, Dec 14, 2017 at 2:19 PM


Louisiana faces a public health crisis in the form of high rates of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). In 2016, Louisiana ranked first in the nation for primary and secondary syphilis rates, according to a November study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Our state also ranked third in the nation for HIV rates, with the New Orleans and Baton Rouge metro areas at No. 2 and No. 3, respectively.

The rates among young people underscore the crisis. Louisiana has the highest rate of syphilis among adolescents, the second highest rate of gonorrhea and chlamydia among adolescents, and the third highest rate of HIV diagnoses among adolescents. Louisiana’s teen pregnancy rates have fallen in recent years (as they have elsewhere in the U.S.), but we still rank seventh-highest.

This crisis is very real, but state lawmakers refuse to address it.

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Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Living with Alzheimer's disease: One family's story

Posted By on Tue, Dec 12, 2017 at 10:04 AM

Bonnie Hay (center) and her mother and father.
  • Bonnie Hay (center) and her mother and father.

When Bonnie Hay's grandmother died after a battle with Alzheimer's disease in 2003, she felt a sense of almost-indescribable loss.

"All these memories I have of my mawmaw, taking me fishing at her house ... I'd come in and lay my head in her lap, and she'd play with my hair until I went to sleep — stuff I remember like it was yesterday," she says. "But [during] her last days, she didn't remember that. She didn't remember me, or my dad."

It was an aching moment of confusion and grief, and for Hay, it was magnified by her awareness of her father's illness. In 1996, at the age of 48, her father Ken — her grandmother's son — also was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, which has a hereditary component. For the past 21 years, he has been living with the disease that can impair cognition and memory, and inspiring his daughter to speak out about a  condition that she says often is misunderstood.

This weekend, Hay will travel from her home in West Monroe to be among participants at a free symposium offered by the Alzheimer's Association and Ochsner Health System Dec. 16 for caretakers of people with Alzheimer's disease and dementia. At the event, doctors, pharmacists and care professionals will offer advice on dealing with burnout, having difficult conversations and coping with an illness that affects as many as 5 million Americans. (There's no charge to attend, but caregivers who wish to attend must call (800) 272-3900 to register.)

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Thursday, December 7, 2017

Geaux Talk campaign promotes comprehensive sex ed in Louisiana schools

Posted By on Thu, Dec 7, 2017 at 6:25 PM

New Orleans City Councilmember At-Large Stacy Head and members of the Louisiana Public Health Institute and the Institute of Women and Ethnic Studies announced the launch of Geaux Talk to promote comprehensive sex ed.
  • New Orleans City Councilmember At-Large Stacy Head and members of the Louisiana Public Health Institute and the Institute of Women and Ethnic Studies announced the launch of Geaux Talk to promote comprehensive sex ed.

Louisiana has some of the highest rates of sexually transmitted diseases among young people in the U.S. The state has the highest rate of syphilis among adolescents, the second highest rate of gonorrhea and chlamydia among adolescents, and the third highest rate of HIV diagnoses among adolescents. The state also has the sixth highest teen birth rate, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Most parents believe their children deserve comprehensive sex education in schools, and most parents think their children already are getting it — but that’s not necessarily the case. Louisiana doesn’t guarantee students receive comprehensive sex ed, and state law doesn’t require schools monitor whether they’re getting it.

Geaux Talk — a new public health campaign from the Louisiana Public Health Institute (LPHI) — aims to give parents, as well as students, teachers and legislators, all the resources they need to begin conversations about getting comprehensive sex ed into schools and at home.

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Monday, December 4, 2017

New Orleans Musicians' Clinic to hold enrollment event for Affordable Care Act

Posted By on Mon, Dec 4, 2017 at 4:52 PM


We know you've got a lot on your mind these days (the state of the world, holiday shopping, the Atlanta Falcons, Alvin Kamara), but a reminder: If you want to take advantage of open enrollment on the Affordable Care Act, the deadline to do so is Dec. 15. That's just a week and a half away.

The New Orleans Musicians' Clinic and 504HealthNet want to get you hooked up, so they're having a musical signup event at the Ace Hotel New Orleans from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Dec. 12. Counselors will be available to guide consumers through the maze of health plans, and there will be music by Charlie Wooton, Johnny Vidocovich, June Yamagishi, John Gros, and Kris Royal to make the medicine go down.

Details (including what you need to bring) under the jump. Here's the Facebook event:

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Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Dynamo Toys, woman- and LGBT-friendly adult accessories shop, opens on St. Claude

Posted By on Tue, Nov 28, 2017 at 4:12 PM


With its robin's egg-blue walls and colorful merchandise displayed inside a converted St. Claude Avenue shotgun, Dynamo Toys & Supplies (2001 St. Claude Ave.) could be any New Orleans boutique — until you notice the iridescent purple harnesses, or the rack of leather floggers, or the library of books with titles like 50 Shades of Kink and Naked at Our Age (Talking Out Loud About Senior Sex).

After more than four years of preparation, which included pop-up events and sex-positive workshops throughout the city, partners Hope Kodman and Nico Darling have opened what they say is the city's first adult accessory and toy store designed by — and for — women. The shop offers a curated selections of products meant to enhance the sex lives of clients of all genders, in a clean, welcoming space that is the opposite of seedy or cheesy Bourbon Street sex shops.

"We want to be a space ... that people would be proud to come into, and be seen leaving with a bag in hand," Kodman says. "[Where people] won't feel intimidated, and simply feel like they can talk."

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Thursday, November 16, 2017

Steve Scalise, Rosie O'Donnell mix it up on Twitter

Posted By on Thu, Nov 16, 2017 at 5:51 PM

  • Rosie O'Donnell.

Once again demonstrating that modern life is basically the fourth grade writ large, with consequences that likely will mean the death of all of us, comedian and professional Donald Trump irritant Rosie O'Donnell mixed it up with House Majority Whip Steve Scalise after he crowed about the U.S. House of Representatives passing its controversial tax cut bill
To which O'Donnell replied ...

To which Scalise replied ...

(As we all know, in the South "Bless your heart!" is just a different way to pronounce "Go fuck yourself.") Scalise's riposte was enough to make O'Donnell switch from all lower case to ALL CAPS in a hurry.

More maturity under the jump ...

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NOAGE hosts 'LGBT Health and Aging' symposium Dec. 2

Posted By on Thu, Nov 16, 2017 at 1:11 PM


New Orleans Advocates for GLBT Elders (NOAGE) and Ochsner Pride host a symposium on LGBT health and aging Dec. 2.

The symposium, which targets doctors, nurses, social workers, caretakers and other health care professionals, includes topics such as creating a welcoming environment in health care settings, aging with HIV, transgender health care, legal issues and other matters relevant to LGBT seniors. Serena Worthington, who directs national LGBT elders association Services & Advocacy for GLBT Elders (SAGE), is the keynote speaker.

There's also a screening of Gen Silent, a documentary that follows the lives of several older LGBT people.

The program is part of NOAGE's continued advocacy work, much of which centers around health care. Since this spring, executive director Jim Meadows says the organization has provided 200 "cultural competency" trainings to providers to help them better serve their LGBT patients. NOAGE estimates that there are 20,000 older LGBT people living in the greater New Orleans area.

The symposium takes place Dec. 2 at Ochsner Health System's Jefferson Highway campus. It's free to attend, and continuing education credits are available for participants. Contact NOAGE to register.

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Monday, November 13, 2017

"Unmasking Brain Injury" pop-up art exhibit opens Nov. 16

Posted By on Mon, Nov 13, 2017 at 4:50 PM


Carlos, a brain injury survivor who lives in Metairie, painted his mask blue and purple.

On the purple side, he wrote the words "tired," "misunderstood" and "hatred," while the blue side includes the words "strong," "love," "grateful," and "humorous." A brain he painted above the colorful face is ringed with flames.

"My brain surrounded by fire represents light and intensity. An important message I want to share with others is to 'listen to us,'" he wrote, in a statement accompanying the art project.

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