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

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

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Department of Epidemiology, UCLA School of Public Health, Box 951772, Los Angeles, CA 90095-1772, USA.



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


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.


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.


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.

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