NEW YORK, Jan. 9 (UPI) -- The New York City health department reports that the death rate in 2006 reached an all-time low of 55,391 deaths, down from 57,068 in 2005.
The Annual Summary of Vital Statistics says that mortality declined in eight categories, including diabetes, HIV, chronic lung disease and kidney failure.
Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, New York City heath commissioner, says the only leading killer that increased significantly was substance use, which rose 8 percent. Heart disease, which took 21,844 lives and cancer, which took 13,116 lives, are the city's biggest killers.
Deaths from HIV disease fell by nearly 15 percent in one year -- from 1,419 in 2005 to 1,209 in 2006.
Researchers attribute the HIV decline in deaths to a lower infection rate among injecting drug users, syringe exchange programs, increased screening and health services, a declining population of injecting drug users and slower disease progression among those receiving antiretroviral therapy.
"The leading causes of premature death can be prevented by quitting smoking, controlling blood pressure and cholesterol, reducing risky sex and using condoms and living free of alcohol and drug dependence," Frieden said in a statement.