A newly published research letter in the Journal of the American Medical Association reports a shrinking of the life expectancy gap between blacks and whites.

According to Reuters Health, African Americans are living longer, while some subsets of whites are dying younger. The shift in black life expectancy is believed to be related to strides in HIV/AIDS and heart disease treatment. Those afflicted with these conditions are surviving more often that they’re succumbing.

Sam Harper of McGill University in Montreal, Quebec, the lead author of the study, claims:

Over [a five-year period, from 2003 to 2008], average lifespan increased among all groups. In men, it rose from 75.3 years to 76.2 for whites and from 68.8 to 70.8 for blacks. The greater increase among black men meant that the gap shrank from a difference of 6.5 years of expected life to 5.4 years.

Life expectancy also grew from 80.3 years to 81.2 in white women and from 75.7 to 77.5 in black women – a difference of 4.6 years in 2003 compared to 3.7 years in 2008.

“The gap at the present time is as low as it’s ever been since we’ve been measuring life expectancy,” Harper said.

Read the full report here.

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