The indicator "years of potential life lost" (YPLL) points out the extent to which premature death among Puerto Ricans residing in the United States is a function of behaviors and social conditions. The computation of YPLL for various causes of death highlights the devastating effect of HIV infection, which emerges as the leading cause of premature death for both genders. Indeed, a 50 percent reduction in the HIV/AIDS death toll would save more years of potential life than the complete eradication of both cancer and diabetes. Accidents and homicides follow HTV as leading causes of YPLL.

This indicator also underscores gender-specific vulnerabilities. Men comprise less than half the U.S. Puerto Rican population, but they account for 61.1 percent of all deaths and 73 percent of YPLL. While they do not permit an analysis of changes over time, these cross-sectional data reflect general trends in Puerto Rico, where gender differentials are also marked, and deaths related to unprotected sex, drug use, and violence have displaced traditional pathophysiological conditions as the leading causes of premature death.



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