NEW YORK (AP) _ Twenty-two AIDS activists dressed in Santa Claus costumes chained themselves together inside Macy's on Friday to protest the store's refusal to rehire a store Santa who has the virus that causes AIDS.

Management of the department store said the decision against rehiring Mark Woodley as a Santa this year was based on medical advice. The store also said he had rejected a supervisory job at a higher salary.

Nineteen people were charged with resisting arrest in the protest on the busiest shopping day of the year, said police spokeswoman Kim Royster. Eighteen of them also were charged with criminal trespass.

''Macy's is playing Scrooge by firing one of their most popular Santas. AIDS discrimination violates the spirit of Christmas and we will not tolerate it at all,'' said ACT UP protester Jon Winkelman.

But Macy's issued a statement saying: ''Mr. Woodley was not offered a position ... because of the specific type of medication he was taking and the advice of our medical expert.''