AIDS Leaves List of Top Killers

The rate of deaths associated with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) that causes AIDS last year dropped to the lowest level since 1987, according to figures released by the federal government last week.

The age-adjusted death rate linked to HIV infection dropped 21 percent to 4.6 per 100,000 persons in 1998, on the heels of a 48 percent decline from 1996 to 1997. With the recent declines, the disease moved off the list of the 15 leading causes of death in the United States for the first time since 1987.

The new data were published by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as part of its report "Births and Deaths: Preliminary Data for 1998."

Leading Causes of U.S. Deaths, 1998

Causes of death Number

Heart Disease 724,269

Cancer 538,947

Stroke 158,060

Chronic lung obstruction 114,381

Pneumonia and influenza 94,828

Accidents 93,207

Diabetes mellitus 64,574

Suicide 29,264

Kidney disease 26,295

Chronic liver disease 24,936

Blood poisoning 23,643

Alzheimer's disease 22,824

Homicide 17,350

Clogged or blocked arteries 15,424

Hypertension 14,216

SOURCE: National Center for Health Statistics