By Diana E. Lopez and Jared Acosta
As Black History Month comes to a close, we celebrate East Stroudsburg resident Ms. Debra Fraser-Howze. M.P.A. She is a renowned pioneer of health advocacy services for the Black Community. Ms. Fraser-Howze founded the National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS (NBLCA). She brought attention to communities in need. She advocated, "you need to know your status" related to the HIV epidemic. She served as Presidential Advisor for both Bill Clinton and George W. Bush from 1995 to 2001. In 2003, Ms. Fraser-Howze was appointed to the New York City Commission on AIDS and in 2007 to the New York State Governors Health Advisory Council. She served as the Vice-Chair of the HIV Human Services Planning Council in New York City. In 2009, she received the National Medical Association's (NMA) highest honor - The Scroll of Merit. Working with community leaders and lawmakers, Ms. Fraser-Howze ensured communities of color would have resources for teen pregnancy, social welfare, HIV and AIDS.
For her work and constant contribution to health advocacy and education, in 2010, Ms. Fraser-Howze, M.P.A., was inducted into the Hunter College Hall of Fame for distinguished achievement. Ms. Fraser-Howze worked with OraSure on the first rapid In-Home HIV Test, sold over the counter. She is relentless in raising awareness of HIV home testing and encourages testing among African Americans.
In today's world, Ms. Fraser-Howze is tackling the Covid-19 pandemic. Since January 2020, she has worked on developing business opportunities in new markets to ensure access to communities in need of testing. As founder and president of Choose Healthy Life Fraser- Howze's organization strengthens community infrastructure to better manage the pandemic in Black communities that have long been plagued by inequity.
When asked, "What was the most difficult obstacle that you've had to overcome when you first got started?" Ms. Fraser-Howze responded, "Racism" She described the rampant health disparities rampant across the United States. When the pandemic arrived, Ms. Fraser-Howze described her fight against the racist history, such as the 1932 Tuskegee experiments. We acknowledge and deeply appreciate Ms. Fraser-Howze's contribution. She stands as a great pillar of the black community and is proud to call the Poconos home.