Today’s news:

Boro’s health better on AIDS, worse on cancer

On a less positive note, Queens led the city in deaths from several types of cancers.Overall, the city once again reported a record low number of total deaths at 59,213, the fewest since 1898 when New York was home to less than half the people it has now. The statistics were for 2003, the most recent available.The Health Department placed particular significance on the news that diabetes rose to the fourth leading cause of death citywide while HIV dropped to No. 7. with heart disease, cancer and influenza/pneumonia as the top three causes of death.Diabetes caused 1,891 deaths and thus rose to No. 4 in New York. Queens, with 397 diabetes deaths, was ranked third citywide after Brooklyn and the Bronx."The number of HIV cases dropped again, from 1,713 in 2002 to 1,656 in 2003 and fell in rank from fifth to seventh as a cause of death," the report said.Queens had 150 HIV-AIDS deaths compared with 498 in Brooklyn, 485 in the Bronx and 409 in Manhattan.Although Queens had a low HIV-AIDS death total in comparison to the other principal boroughs, tit led the city in deaths from Hodgkins disease, non-Hodgkins lymphoma and multiple myeloma, all forms of cancer."Too many people die prematurely from preventable causes," said Dr. Thomas Frieden, city health commissioner. "Heart disease goes hand-in-hand with diabetes and accounts for 80 percent of diabetes-related deaths. This is of the utmost concern because diabetes, which can be controlled, has more than doubled over the past 10 years and it remains an under-diagnosed condition."In death categories, the area the Health Department designates as Jamaica West had the most deaths from heart disease in Queens with 1,425. Maspeth-Forest Hills listed 1,200 deaths from heart disease and amaica East reported 952. Flushing had 777 deaths from cancer, while Jamaica East and West and Maspeth-Forest Hills all reported more than 500.In most cases, the number of deaths in Queens was surpassed only by those in Brooklyn, which Health Department officials explained was due, in part, to the fact that Brooklyn has nearly a quarter million more people. In at least one category - suicide - Manhattan led both Brooklyn (108) and Queens (98) with 108.The Health Department also said teen births in the city had fallen by 36 percent compared to a decade ago."As is happening nationally, fewer teens are becoming mothers in New York City, " Frieden said. "Some are delaying sexual activity and sexually active teens are seeking out and using contraceptive methods more successfully, including effective birth control methods such as the 'patch' and condoms."Frieden applauded the decline in deaths from HIV but said "New York City remains the center of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. HIV continues to be the No. 1 cause of death for New Yorkers between the ages of 35 and 44. Every sexually active New Yorker has a role to play in stopping the spread of HIV/AIDS."Other points of the report:The blackout of Aug. 14, 2003 caused six deaths in New York, four of them in Queens, but records show no abnormal increase in births nine months later.The 90,820 abortions reported citywide were about 1,000 fewer than a year earlier. Borough totals for abortions: Queens 19,676; Brooklyn 28,972; Bronx 20,263; Manhattan 12,548.The principal means of suicide were hanging, strangulation or suffocation; jumping from high place; and poisoning.In an unrelated category, the most popular baby names by sex and mother's ethnic group New York in 2003 were:Girls - Hispanic (Ashley); black (Kayla); white (Sarah); Asian/Pacific Islander (Michelle). Boys - Hispanic (Justin); black (Justin); white (Michael); Asian/Pacific Islander (Kevin)Reach contributing writer Philip Newman by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 136.

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