BERLIN (AP) _ Films, puppet shows and dances about AIDS are part of a cultural festival running side-by-side with a global scientific conference on the disease.

''No one is happy about the need for such things, but artists often deal with things that impact their lives,'' U.S. filmmaker Peter Friedman said of the cultural festival, which opened Friday.

The Ninth International Conference on AIDS, sponsored by the World Health Organization, the International AIDS Society and other groups, opens Sunday. Both conference and festival are to run through next Friday.

Friedman, a New Yorker, is co-director with the late Tom Joslin of ''Silverlake Life, The View From Here,'' a film diary of Joslin's battle with AIDS that is being screened as part of the cultural festival.

Joslin handed the project over to Friedman, who had been his student, when he became too ill to complete it.

''It shows how he and his lover coped with their illness, how it impacted every aspect of their lives, down to relations with family, treatment decisions and struggling to face death,'' Friedman said in a telephone interview.

Four Berlin cinemas are to show more than 100 films and videos about the disease. Puppet shows, dance performances, and poster and book exhibitions are also scheduled.

The conference chairman, Professor Karl-Otto Habermehl, director of the virology institute at the Free University of Berlin, said at a news conference Friday that no dramatic breakthroughs were expected at the meeting.

Habermehl said more than 15,000 specialists are attending, including 2,000 from the Third World, where AIDS is ravaging some countries and threatening others. Africa south of the Sahara accounts for about half of the 14 million cases estimated in the world since the epidemic was identified in the early 1980s, he said.

In all, 166 countries are to be represented.