Health Statistics for Black American Men

Concerning health statistics observed among black men

African American man at the doctor

Hero Images/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 the 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 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.
  • They have a higher incidence and a higher rate of death from oral cancer.
  • Black men are 3 times more likely to have HIV/AIDS.

Other Health Statistics

  • 44% of black men are considered overweight
  • 37.5% 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

10 Leading Causes of Death Among Black Americans (2016)

  1. Heart disease (23.7% of total deaths)
  2. Cancer (20.9%)
  3. Stroke (4.8%)
  4. Unintentional injuries (5.5%)
  5. Homicide (5.1%)
  6. Diabetes (4.1%)
  7. Chronic lower respiratory diseases (3.3%)
  8. Kidney disease (2.6%)
  9. Alzheimer's disease (2.6%)
  10. Septicemia (1.8%)

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 2016 was homicide.

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

  • Ages 1-19, homicide accounted for 35.2% of total deaths
  • Ages 20-44, 28.9% of total deaths
  • Ages 45-64, 1.9% 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 20% of total deaths
  • Ages 20-24, 18% 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.

Was this page helpful?
Article 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, 2011. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Sept 5, 2014.

  2. 2016 CROI Press Release: Lifetime HIV Risk. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Feb 23, 2016.

  3. FastStats - Health of Black or African American Population. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. May 3, 2017.

  4. African American Disparities in Low-Grade Prostate Cancer Death. National Cancer Institute. Published January 28, 2019.

  5. Heron M. National Vital Statistics Report. US Department of Health and Human Services. Jul 26, 2018.

  6. Leading Causes of Death-Non-Hispanic black Males - United States, 2016. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Sept 27, 2019.

Additional Reading
  • Health, United States, 2003. 2003. Centers for Disease Control.
  • Death: Lead Causes, 2016. Centers for Disease Control.

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