Longevity Gap Lessens for Blacks
March 26, 2007
The life expectancy gap between U.S. whites and blacks decreased between 1983 and 2003, according to a new study. The researchers cited improved AIDS mortality among factors contributing to the improvement.
Between 1993 and 2003, the average life expectancy for whites rose from 76.3 years to 78, and it increased from 69.2 years to 72.7 for blacks, the study of mortality statistics found.
In part, better AIDS therapies and reduced homicide rates helped narrow the gap by almost two years from a decade ago, said Sam Harper, a McGill University researcher, and colleagues.
Cardiovascular disease seems to be the main reason behind the continuing life-expectancy gap, said Harper.
"This doesn't let violence off the hook," said Dr. Joshua M. Sharfstein, Baltimore's health commissioner, pointing to the need for much more progress in violence reduction.
Between 2001 and 2005 in Maryland, the life expectancy gap narrowed similarly, said Dr. Carlessia A. Hussein, the state's Office of Minority Health and Health Disparities director. Life expectancy grew from 78 years to 79.1 among white residents and from 72.2 years to 74.3 for black residents.
Baltimore, a city with a predominantly African-American population and high rates of HIV infection and drug addiction, had one of the lowest life expectancies in the nation, a Harvard study found last year.
The full report, "Trends in the Black-White Life Expectancy Gap in the United States, 1983-2003," was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (2007;297;(11):1224-1232).
03.20.07; Dennis O'Brien