Group of Young MenThis week is National Men’s Health Week, and it is a moment to encourage healthy and safe lifestyles and speak to the men and boys in our lives to make their health a priority. In 2015, this country has seen a lot of health and quality-of-life issues affecting the Black men that we know. Here are some of the top leading health issues for African American men.

Prostate Cancer

African American men are nearly 1.6 times more likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer than Caucasian men and 2.4 times more likely to die from the disease.

Although it is not fully understood why Black males suffer at higher incidences, it is believed that the combination of various disparities help create a perfect storm for this aggressive disease.

What he should do:

African American males aged 40 and over should have a yearly rectal exam and Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) Test.


African Americans are the ethnic group most affected by HIV in the United States. Black men have the highest rates of new HIV infections among all men.

Of the 38,000 total estimated new HIV infections among men in the United States in 2010, 39 percent (14,700) of the infections were in Blacks, 35 percent (13,200) were in whites and 22 percent (8,500) were in Latinos.

From 2008 to 2012, the death rate per 1,000 African Americans living with HIV declined only 28 percent, while there was a 22 percent decline seen among all people living with HIV.

What he should do:

If he is having unprotected sex –vaginal, anal or oral sex, he should wear a latex condom. He should also be getting tested at least every three months for HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases. Most states offer free, confidential and even anonymous testing. If he is injecting drugs, many states have a free syringe exchange and disposal plan for those without a prescription.

Heart Disease

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men in the United States, killing 307,225 men in 2009—that’s 1 in every 4 male deaths. It is also the leading cause of death for Black men at roughly 25 percent. Half of the men who die suddenly of coronary heart disease have no previous symptoms. Even without symptoms, a man may still be at risk for heart disease.

What he should do:

There are several medical conditions and lifestyle factors that can increase one’s risk for heart disease. This includes but is not limited to diabetes, obesity, physical inactivity and excessive alcohol use. If your husband, father, brother or son is diabetic, he should make sure that he is managing his sugar and insulin properly, or speak with his healthcare provider.


Men are 25 percent more likely than women to have a stroke and Black men are twice more likely than other racial groups to have one.

There are two types of strokes:

Ischaemic stroke is similar to a heart attack, except it occurs in the blood vessels of the brain. Clots form either in the brain’s blood vessels, in blood vessels leading to the brain or even blood vessels elsewhere in the body which then may travel to the brain.

Haemorrhagic stroke is when a blood vessel in the brain breaks or ruptures. The result is blood seeping into the brain tissue, causing damage to brain cells.

Symptoms of a stroke include weakness or numbness of the face, arm or leg on one side of the body. Symptoms can also include:

  • Loss of vision or dimming vision (like a curtain falling)
  • Loss of speech, difficulty talking, or understanding what others are saying
  • Sudden, severe headache with no known cause

What he should do:

There are uncontrollable (like genetics) and controllable risk factors, but up to half of all strokes that occur could be prevented. Lifestyle behaviors such as smoking, obesity, and uncontrolled medical conditions like diabetes or hypertension could put your man at an unnecessary risk.

Final Word

African American men have the highest death rate of all racial/ethnic groups, male or female. Now, death is something that will happen to everyone eventually—but premature death is something we can sometimes prevent. So this week, take your man to the doctor or talk to someone you love about their health. Positive change can start with a conversation.

S.C. Rhyne is a blogger and novelist in New York City. Follow the author on Twitter @ReporterandGirl, and visit her website at

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