Valery Hughes was born in the mid-fifties and was raised in Queens with her two sisters. She attended public school. She received her RN degree (as an Associate of Applied Science) from the City University at Queensboro Community College in the mid-seventies and worked as a registered nurse for several years before continuing her education.
Along the way she worked in hospitals as a staff nurse in surgery, intensive care, surgical intensive care and emergency medicine.
She spent a short time in Thailand working in the Admissions Ward (Emergency Department) at the hospital at the Khao-I-Dang Refugee Camp at the Thai-Cambodian border.
After returning to NYC in 1981, she found the ICUs where she was working to be filling up with young men with a peculiar immune deficiency. Although it would be years before anyone understood what was happening, it became the main focus of her education and career.
Ultimately, she became a Family Nurse Practitioner so she could pursue her interest in primary care for people living with HIV infection.
In 1999, she moved to the Weill Cornell Medical College to work in HIV clinical trials. The Cornell Clinical Trials Unit is a part of the NIH AIDS Clinical Trials Group (ACTG), and also holds grants from the CPCRA, the network from which the START HIV study emerged.
During the past 20 years she was a study coordinator for many of the studies that helped to define HIV treatment drugs and regimens, as well as helping to define specific issues that are different in HIV infection including cardiovascular disease, lipodystrophy and aging.
She has worked on two prevention studies funded by the HPTN (HIV Prevention Trials Network) including the HPTN 069 and the ongoing HPTN 083. She plans to retire from this position in 2019. After the pandemic struck in 2020 she was called back to work to participate and run clinical trials for the COVID-19 vaccine as well as other treatments for this virus
Valery lives with her wife of 37 years, Mary Arzilli, in an apartment in Manhattan.
Both Ellen and I are proud to be invited to be champions for Pride 365. We have been advocates for this community for decades, even when it was not popular. we have seen many positive changes over the decades we have been in health care, but there is still much work to be done. Thank you for including us and we look forward to furthering this worthwhile endeavor!