Health Statistics for Black American Men

Concerning health statistics observed among Black men

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 from specific causes compared to both men and women of other racial and ethnic groups.

Man talking with his doctor
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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

Statistically speaking, Black men live seven years less than men of other racial groups. They also have higher death rates than Black women for all leading causes of death. Black men have a higher incidence and a higher rate of death from oral cancer, and have a much higher risk of developing HIV/AIDS in their lifetime.

Other Health Statistics

  • 44% of Black men are considered overweight
  • 37.5% are obese
  • Black men suffer more preventable oral diseases that are treatable
  • Black men have a higher incidence of diabetes and prostate cancer
  • Black men have a high suicide rate; it's the third leading cause of death in 15- to 24-year-olds

10 Leading Causes of Death

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the following were the leading causes of death of Black men in 2019:

  1. Heart disease (23.7% of total deaths)
  2. Cancer (20.2%)
  3. Unintentional injuries (7.9%)
  4. Homicide (5.0%)
  5. Stroke (4.9%)
  6. Diabetes (4.3%)
  7. Chronic lower respiratory diseases (3.2%)
  8. Kidney disease (2.6%)
  9. Septicemia (1.8%)
  10. Hypertension (1.6%)

Homicide a Leading Cause of Death for Younger Black Males

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 44, the number one cause of death in 2017 was homicide.

A further breakdown of deaths by age group among Black men due to homicide:

  • Ages 1-19, homicide accounted for 35.3% of total deaths
  • Ages 20-44, 27.6% of total deaths
  • Ages 45-64, 2.1% 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 men, there was a 1 in 20 lifetime risk, compared to a 1 in 132 lifetime risk for white men. If these rates continue, approximately one in two Black men who have sex with men (MSM) will be diagnosed with HIV in their lifetime—a rate of 50%.

This is a very concerning statistic that is not easily explained, but 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.

7 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. QuickStats: Life Expectancy at Birth, by Sex and Race/Ethnicity - United States. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

  2. CROI Press Release: Lifetime HIV Risk. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

  3. FastStats - Health of Black or African American Population. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

  4. African American Disparities in Low-Grade Prostate Cancer Death. National Cancer Institute.

  5. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Leading Causes of Death - Males - Non-Hispanic black - United States.

  6. Heron M. National Vital Statistics Report. US Department of Health and Human Services.

  7. Leading Causes of Death-Non-Hispanic black Males - United States. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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

By Jerry Kennard
 Jerry Kennard, PhD, is a psychologist and associate fellow of the British Psychological Society.