On January 8, New York City’s health commissioner Thomas R. Frieden announced that the city’s overall death rate hit an all-time low in 2006, due in part to declines in HIV and smoking-related mortality, reports the Associated Press (ap.google.com, 1/8).

The number of deaths in the city in 2006 was 55,391, down from 57,068 the previous year, reports the AP. Death due to substance use was the only type of mortality that increased significantly, up 8 percent.

HIV mortality fell almost 15 percent in 2006 from the previous year. In 2006, 1,209 cases of HIV-related mortality were reported, compared with 1,419 cases in 2005. The figure in 2006 is the lowest since 1984. The drop has been attributed to expanded HIV testing, slower disease progression and lower rates of infection because of syringe-exchange programs.

The deaths related to HIV were concentrated among minority populations in NYC, with about 34 percent among black men and 21 percent among black women, according to the AP.