Sexual orientation and mortality among US men aged 17 to 59 years: results from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey III

Am J Public Health. 2011 Jun;101(6):1133-8. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2010.300013. Epub 2011 Apr 14.


Objectives: We investigated associations between minority sexual orientation and mortality among US men.

Methods: We used data from a retrospective cohort of 5574 men aged 17 to 59 years, first interviewed in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey III (NHANES III; 1988-1994) and then followed for mortality status up to 18 years later. We classified men into 3 groups: those reporting (1) any same-sex sexual partners (men who have sex with men [MSM]; n = 85), (2) only female sexual partners (n = 5292), and (3) no sexual partners (n = 197). Groups were then compared for all-cause mortality, HIV-related mortality, suicide-related mortality, and non-HIV-related mortality.

Results: Compared with heterosexual men, MSM evidenced greater all-cause mortality. Approximately 13% of MSM died from HIV-related causes compared with 0.1% of men reporting only female partners. However, mortality risk from non-HIV-related causes, including suicide, was not elevated among MSM.

Conclusions: In the United States, the HIV epidemic continues to be the major contributing factor for premature death rates among MSM. Cohorts such as the NHANES III offer a unique opportunity to track the effects of the HIV epidemic on this population.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Cause of Death*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • HIV Infections / mortality
  • Health Status Disparities*
  • Health Surveys
  • Heterosexuality / statistics & numerical data*
  • Homosexuality, Male / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Minority Health*
  • Nutrition Surveys
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Suicide / statistics & numerical data
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Young Adult