updated 6/2/2006 9:20:49 AM ET 2006-06-02T13:20:49

More than 2,000 veterans were advised they might have been exposed to deadly viruses such as HIV when they underwent prostate biopsies at a medical center for veterans, a newspaper reported Friday.

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The Department of Veterans Affairs sent letters dated May 8 to 2,075 men who had the biopsies between 1989 and 2003 at the Zablocki Veterans Affairs Medical Center, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel said.

The letter cautions that equipment may not have been properly sterilized and encourages the veterans to return to the center for a free blood screening.

The risk was described as “very small,” and officials said they have “no evidence that any patient who had a prostate biopsy ... has acquired an infection.”

“We want to do the right thing here,” medical center spokesman Chris Houterman told the newspaper. “We want to allay concerns.”

Houterman said 304 men have gotten blood tests so far and none turned up positive for hepatitis C, hepatitis B or HIV, the three viruses being screened.

Zablocki is among 21 VA medical centers in the nation where potential sterilization problems were found with prostate biopsy equipment. It upgraded its equipment in 2003 and no longer is using the device in question.

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