New Yorkers Living Longer Than U.S. Average; Officials Cite Expanded HIV Testing and Treatment as Main Factor

While moving to New York City may not automatically increase your life expectancy, Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced that New Yorkers, on average, are living longer than ever before, and longer than people anywhere else in the country. A chief reason for this higher life expectancy, officials say, is the city's efforts to ensure more people get tested and treated for HIV.

According to the report, from 2000 to 2009, the life expectancy for babies born in New York City increased from 77.7 to 80.6 years, whereas the national rate increased from 76.8 to 78.2 years. Additionally, the New York City life expectancy at age 40 increased from 39.5 to 42 years, while the national average increased from 38.9 to 40.1. And at 70, the average life expectancy in New York City went from 15.4 to 16.9 years, while the national average only increased from 14.4 to 15.1.

So why the better numbers in New York City?

The New York Times reported:

"Mr. Bloomberg has made public health one of his top policy priorities and has run high-profile campaigns against smoking, obesity and the consumption of salt.

"The biggest factor in New Yorkers' increased life expectancy, however, was unrelated to any of those efforts. Instead, officials attributed it to expanded HIV testing and treatment, which resulted in a substantially reduced death rate from HIV and AIDS. The mortality rate from HIV infection in 2010 fell by 11.3 percent since 2009, and by 51.9 percent since 2002. ...

"For much of the 20th century, New Yorkers lagged behind other Americans in life expectancy. The difference was greatest in 1990, when the AIDS crisis dragged down life expectancy in New York, particularly for men. The tide turned around 2000, when New York's life-expectancy rate began surpassing the national rate."

Indeed, New York City has been leading the way in HIV testing efforts. The New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation (HHC), the largest HIV primary care provider in New York City, was offering routine HIV testing five years before New York State required medical providers to do so. In the past 3 years, HHC has conducted over 600,000 HIV tests. Since 2005, it has diagnosed 10,700 individuals.

But just as important as testing is the linkage to care. According to the announcement, "more than 90 percent of patients diagnosed positive at HHC facilities are linked to life-saving HIV medical care and treatment within 90 days of being diagnosed."