Health Statistics for Black American Men

Concerning health statistics observed among black men

Doctor comforting patient in office. Credit: Jose Luis Pelaez Inv / Getty Images

Black men in the United States suffer worse health than any other racial group in America. For example, as a group, black men have the lowest life expectancy and the highest death rate compared to both men and women of other racial and ethnic groups.

Discrepancies in health statistics for the more than 17 million black men when compared to others highlight a great need to better address their causes.

 There are a number of reasons that can be pointed to as causes for the issues of poor health among black men. Racial discrimination, high rates of incarceration, unemployment, a lack of affordable health services, poor health education, cultural barriers, poverty, access to health insurance, and insufficient medical and social services catering to black men all negatively affect quality of life and health.

Here are some of the sobering health statistics for black men in the U.S.

Black Male Health Statistics

  • Black men live 7.1 years less than other racial groups.
  • They have higher death rates than women for all leading causes of death.
  • They experience disproportionately higher death rates in all the leading causes of death.
  • 40% of black men die prematurely from cardiovascular disease as compared to 21% of white men.
  • They have a higher incidence and a higher rate of death from oral cancer.
  • Black men are 5 times more likely to die of HIV/AIDS.

    Other Health Statistics

    • 44% of black men are considered overweight
    • 24% are obese
    • Black men suffer more preventable oral diseases that are treatable
    • A higher incidence of diabetes and prostate cancer
    • A high suicide rate. It is the 3rd leading cause of death in 15 to 24 year olds

    Ten Leading Causes of Death Among Black Americans (2013)

    1. Heart disease (24% of total deaths)
    1. Cancer (22.4%)
    2. Unintentional injuries (5.8%)
    3. Stroke (4.7%)
    4. Homicide (4.5%)
    5. Diabetes (4.1%)
    6. Chronic lower respiratory diseases (3.3%)
    7. Kidney disease (2.6%)
    8. Speticemia (1.9%)
    9. Influenza and pneumonia (1.7%)

    Homicide a Leading Cause of Death Among Black Men Ages 15-34

    In the category of leading causes of death, when broken down by age group for black males in the U.S., more disturbing statistics are revealed.

    For young black men between the ages of 15 and 34, the number one cause of death in 2013 was homicide.

    Further breakdown of deaths by age group among young black men due to homicide:

    • Ages 15-19, homicide accounted for 47.8% of total deaths
    • Ages 20-24, 49.9% of total deaths
    • Ages 25-34, 33.5% of total deaths

    Compared to the statics of all males in the U.S. in these same age categories, homicide was the third leading cause of death with drastically different percentages of total death attributable to homicide:

    • Ages 15-19, homicide accounted for 18.3% of total deaths
    • Ages 20-24, 17.9% of total deaths
    • Ages 25-34, 11.3% of total deaths

      2016 Report on HIV Risks for Black Men

      In February of 2016, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a report assessing the lifetime risk of HIV in the U.S. by state, as well as by key at-risk populations. The report revealed surprising statistics for black men in the U.S.

      Among black heterosexual men, there was a 1 in 20 lifetime risk, compared to a 1 in 132 lifetime risk for white heterosexual men. 

      But even more shocking was the lifetime risk for gay black men: 1 in 2—50% of gay black men have a lifetime risk of HIV.

      This is a very concerning statistic that is not easily explained, as the very same factors that affect the overall health statistics of black men in the U.S. described above also play a complex role in this statistic as well.

      Further Reading


      Health, United States, 2003. 2003. Centers for Disease Control.

      Leading Causes of Death in Males, 2013. 2013. Centers for Disease Control.

      Lifetime Risk of HIV Diagnosis in the United States. 2016. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).Atlanta, Georgia.

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